YouTube Can Be Our Saving Grace

Miel Bredouw is a comedic goddess. She’s also freaking brilliant in understanding something that we all keep seeming to forget to use to our advantage: there are YouTube tutorials out there for everything. Ok, so she was focused on make-up tutorials, but we can work with that. Because everything can be learned, somehow.

As Miel says, we knew sweet dick all about make-up when we were young. I can still remember my grandma throwing away a concealer because it was kinda orange, I took it from her in 7th grade. For like 6 months, I covered up my pimples with these weird orange dots of concealer. People would point them out to me, and I had no clue why they could see them. I mean, it was concealer. Shouldn’t it just conceal stuff? I had no clue that I had to match it to my skin tone.

I spent the better part of high school with either a grey or black line all the way around my eyes. I knew that eyeliner was a thing and that it lined my eyes. I had no clue how to make it look right, so I just threw on these big circles of liner until my eyelids disappeared.

As a young adult, the height of style was Christina Aguilera and her leather chaps. I was also spending a lot of time in goth bars around that time and now refer to that period as my “dark days”. Christina had the whole ‘6 hairs constitutes one eyebrow’ thing going on, and I went with it too. To this day, my eyebrows have never fully grown back.

I was a mess for a good 10 years at least when it came to make-up. But I wasn’t alone. We all were back then. Most of our makeup skills came from working with whatever was on clearance at the drug store and using it to copy looks from ads in Seventeen Magazine.

Oooh, Tyra Banks looks so good with the but of purple eyeshadow. Let’s recreate that look, but since I don’t have purple I’ll use this metallic shimmery seafoam green and up it right up to my eyebrows!

Today, kids don’t have that problem. I see 19-year-olds coming into my work with perfect winged liner, the most amazing eyebrows, and contour that would stop a Kardashian in their tracks. It’s like they’ve all skipped that awkward ‘blue eyeshadow with no mascara’ phase and jumped right into life as a makeup artist.  And how the hell are they doing that?

YouTube tutorials.

You can look up any look you’re going for online and learn to recreate it step by step. It doesn’t matter if you’re looking for a complex Halloween makeup lesson, how to do the perfect winged eyeliner or just the basics of how to apply your foundation. There is a YouTube tutorial for everything. Can’t find what you’re looking for on YouTube somehow? There’s still WikiHow, LifeHacks, and dozens of websites like this that you can fall back on. And when in doubt, there “the Googles” as my mother calls it.

So the always funny and brilliant Miel touched on something that a shit-tonne of people don’t realize. Yes, we can use the internet to learn to make our eyeliner fierce as fuck. But why stop there? I did a course through a local business on Microsoft Word and Excel. I learned how to do mail merges and make pretty spreadsheets and graphs and shit. That was a few years ago, and my skills have become rusty. I had to go for testing on these programs for a job interview last month. Not only am I rusty, but they use a newer version than I was trained on. YouTube to the rescue! As much as people bitch about the Millenials (and the Xennials, and whatever the hell youngins are being called this day and age in their generation), anyone who was raised with a computer in their home as a child or teen has one gigantic leg up on the older generations.

We have Rapid Skill Aquisition.

If there is something we don’t know how to do, we know how to learn how to do it. I don’t know about you, but I live for online education. My workplace has an online portal for our work training, and there are dozens of courses available to us to take at our “leisure”. I’ve freakin done a bunch of them! For fun one day, I did a course on addiction. It’s something that’s interested me for a long time: addiction, the culture surrounding it, ways to help those battling it. I may not make a career out of it, but with what I’ve learned through this course I was able to get into some free online courses on sites like Coursera on addiction. Maybe I’ll go volunteer somewhere with this knowledge. Maybe it will help me at work, considering I do have to interact with dozens and dozens of addicts some days. Who knows what I’ll do with it!

And there’s more. Need to know how to make a spreadsheet? Turn a spreadsheet into charts and graphs? Charley in accounting thinks you’re useless because he’s been using Excel for like 13 years and you’re just some young new thing in the office? There are YouTube tutorials for that! Hell, WikiHow will walk you through step by step how to do things. I have known dozens of 50+ people in higher-up positions who had no clue how to do this. They were always shocked at how their young employees could figure out how to do pretty much anything they were asked, whether it was photo editing or mail merges.

Now, I’m not knocking formal education here. But that shit is expensive, and the debt from it follows you. The skills I learned in my degrees and certificate were more along the lines of “here’s how to think critically and problem solve”. The actual skills I need for a job in my field, like Microsoft Office training and learning how to take more professional looking photos, are things that I have been expected to teach myself. Unless you took something like Communications or Film, you probably didn’t get a whole lot of training in things like video editing.

Social media itself is something that most schools don’t have classes on but is a huge plus to have experience in when it comes to the workplace. More and more companies are getting things like Twitter, and things can either be amazingly brilliant or bomb spectacularly. I mean, if you want to talk brilliant social media campaigning, then look no further than Denny’s. I follow them on Tumblr of all places, just for fun. There isn’t even a Denny’s in my city! They have that perfect mix of professional and bizarre that Tumblr caters to, and they know it. There are so many fails out there, though. Anything from a stupid tweet to a bad hashtag campaign can ruin a business, and companies are looking for people to run this stuff who don’t still type with just two fingers like my dad does.

There is so much out there that we’re able to learn with just a few mouse clicks and a bit of typing. Take full advantage of this the best you can. Want to spend the day on the internet just reading memes? Spend half an hour learning something new for a program you already use first. Bored feel like watching random YouTube videos for a bit? Start with something educational. In a writing slump and need to write just about anything to get out of it? Check out sites like WikiHow to see if they need articles about anything you know how to do.

Sometimes just learning a little bit extra can be the difference between a job you love and a job you spend every day wishing you could escape. Don’t let yourself be limited by what you’ve formally learned, Sunshine. Go that little extra bit. Learn something new online.

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Job Scams: Just One More THings Screwing With Your Job Search

My name is Crystal Coates am an Human Resource Manager at Complete Technical Solutions. We have a job offer for you.

You are happy to greet you.

Complete Technical Solutions provides enterprise-grade IT support for small and midsize businesses. We help your company get more IT bang for your business buck, tackling network and application issues and resolving user woes all while minimizing outages and driving your IT budget down. Complete Technical Solutions is a well established company providing a wide-ranging(and growing) portfolio of services. Clients approach us with many objectives: to evaluate and improve their existing infrastructure, optimise information flow and reduce the hassle of daily activity, outsource their IT support and take advantage of the Internet-based technologies which are transforming the way we all do business. Bottom line: Complete Technical Solutions makes sure that your IT works for your business and not the other way around.

We got your resume from the website: www.workopolis.com We are looking for responsible and reliable people to expand our personnel. Currently we have an open 3 position of an Online Service Manager.

What does an Online Service Manager has to do?

Online service manager performs tasks in the Internet similar to ones performed by customer service representatives. However, as managers, they also supervise other client service representatives. In general, representatives work to ensure clients’ satisfaction with organization’s products and services. They are often the primar point of contact for a client or customer. Their job assignments include directing and controlling the process and fulfilment of orders, fielding customer inquiries, and resolving customer complaints.

If you are interested in this position and you are ready to become a successful manager with the opportunity for career growth together with Complete Technical Solutions, please reply this mail and we will begin your employment.

If you are not interested, please let us know also, and we will not bother you again.

This gem popped up in my inbox this morning. Now, I have three different email addresses, and I can check all three automatically from my main Gmail account. There’s my social media account, my university account, and my professional sounding Gmail account I use for everything from resumes to bills to online shopping. Yes, I use the professional account on my resumes, and for all my job search related emails.  The only time I ever used any of the other accounts was in University when I had to use my university account for my positions through the university.  Every single resume, job search site, employment seminar, and online class uses my professional address.

This showed up addressed to my university address.

That right there is the first red flag. In fact, this is a HUGE red flag! If this red flag got any bigger, it could blanket this entire county. If you have multiple email accounts, and you get any sort of job search related email in an account you never use for job hunting, it’s 99.999% most likely a scam.

It’s a pretty shitty thing, but the number of online scams for job hunters is on the rise. There have always been scammers out there, but their schtick was so old it’s was easy to identify. Back before I had my own personal computer, I remember looking at the old “stuff envelopes from home” thing, where you paid a “low low one-time fee” of something like $69.95 to get a list of work from home jobs. From there, you could contact each of these jobs, most of whom made you pay a “low low one-time fee” of anything from $10 to $500 for materials and training. They claimed you would be reimbursed once you proved you were willing to work for them. They only collected money because there were too many people out there who would send away for the materials and then do nothing with them. They were losing millions, they claimed, and needed to protect themselves from us work-from-home scammers.

Boo-freakin-hoo.

These scams have always been around because people who need money to survive sometimes become a bit desperate. They tell people who otherwise wouldn’t be able to work or make a living that they can work from their home. Working mothers, the elderly, disabled, and people with other issues or responsibilities that keep them in their home were told that they would be able to earn a decent living. Students were told they could work around their schedules to earn money. All they had to do was pay a little bit up front and they could earn all they needed.

Of course, it was all lies. I knew someone way back in the day, before I was so ridiculously old, who fell for one of those ‘stuff envelopes from home’ scams. He got an envelope in the mail, with flyers and lists for all these work from home jobs.  He shelled out $19.95 for a list of work from home jobs, to start with. The list had all sorts of jobs listed: assembling jewelry, assembling small toys, stuffing envelopes, telemarketing from home, things like that. He then had to pay $79.95 as a “material fee” for a box of envelopes and boxes of flyers. The information he got from the company said that he could make “up to $45 an envelope”.  They claimed he could afford to quit his job and stuff envelopes professionally in a few months.

How?

Well it turns out he would get a base fee of $25 for every 200 envelopes he stuffed. That means he would have to stuff 16,000 envelopes a month to make $2,000 before taxes. $24,000 a year before taxes, for stuffing roughly 550 envelopes a day. BUT he could earn more. If someone received his envelope, was interested in the information in the envelope, and ‘responded in a positive manner’, he would receive a $45 commission as a ‘finders fee’.

So what was in the envelopes?

They were the envelope he got in the mail. The one he read, and then sent away for more info for the initial $19.95. It turns out, every time someone sent away for the list of work from home jobs, and then signed up for one of those jobs and sent them a “material fee”, he would get his $45.  The thing is, we were all constantly getting those letters. I would get 6 or 7 a month.  All of my friends did. Out of dozens and dozens of us who knew this guy, he was the only one who sent away for anything. The chances of him getting people to not only send away for the list but then send away for materials was slim to none. He would have to work roughly 12 hours a day, to live below the poverty line. Their whole “you can quit your job” line was based on you getting 50% of the people you send envelopes to every month to send in that money. The real rate of return on that was actually less than 1%, we later found out.

This scam is still out there today, but online. And with the ever changing nature of the internet, scams are evolving too. Some of them are a little too slick, a little too convincing. Some of them are a little too hard to detect at first. You’re not getting the standard “send us money, we’ll send you stuff to make money with” bullshit from the past.

So how do you avoid becoming a victim of these scams? And how do you identify them?

Do they offer you way too much money for simple tasks? 

The job offer from above emailed me again, with more “details” from the job.

Emрlоymеnt: Full/Pаrt timе:

1.Sаlаry: $1340/$670 per week
2.Wоrкing hоurs: 40/20 hоurs wеекly
3.Working hours (full time position): 9 AM – 5 PM.
4.Payment will be sent to your bank account weekly directly via Interac e-transfer. Payable at regular every Friday at 6 pm.

If you choose position of Part Time, you need to work at least 4 hours a day, it is advisable to start the morning.

So working 20 hours a week earns you $670 to “keep in touch with customers and clients”. They claim you would be answering emails and online chat requests, and you’d be working directly from a script. So they’re willing to pay you $33.50 AN HOUR to answer a few emails. Doesn’t that seem just a little bit ridiculously high?

Usually, if you’re going to make a ridiculously high wage like that, you’ve either worked your way up in the company to a very high position, or your daddy is the CEO and just handed you the job to keep the business in the family. No one is going to send out random emails to prospective employees and offer them that kind of wage. No one out there offers this as a starting wage for customer service. No one.

So you received an email with a job offer. What email address did it come from?

Companies pay good money for their domain names. Big companies aren’t going to have email addresses from Yahoo or Hotmail. The emails with come from addresses like FirstnameLastname@company.com. If Amazon were to email you a job offer, for example, the offer would come from someone directly at Amazon. You would be able to Google them, and get their contact information through their website. If Jane Doe is the head of the HR department, you would get an email address from JaneDoe@amazon.com or something like that. You would be able to Google “Jane Doe Amazon HR Department” and come up with information and contact information about her.

You would NEVER get an email from JaneDoe_AmazonEmployment@gmail.com or AmazonEmploymentRelations@yahoo.com. If a company has a website (which pretty much every company existing today does), then it has a professional email address. They’re not going to give everyone a professional email address except the person in charge of hiring new employees.

They’re also not going to have ridiculously long email addresses that seem to have been randomly thrown together. JaneDoeHRdeptcdhm@yahoo.cdhm.gime.uk emailing to offer you a job with a local company is about 200% fake. If an email address looks like it was thrown together randomly from a box of alphabet soup, it’s bullshit.

And don’t be fooled by how professional an email looks. Templates can be copied, logos can be stolen or faked. Just because someone knows what the Amazon logo looks like, or knows how to make an email look super pretty, doesn’t mean they are offering you something real.

What does their website look like?

Ok, I honestly think that “how to spot a fake website” should be a mandatory course, not just taught to students but taught to EVERYONE!!!! I swear, if I have to see one more post on Facebook saying that McDonald’s/WalMart/Tim Horton’s is giving away free $1,000 gift cards to anyone who signs up on their linked website, I’m going scream. Every single one of those websites fails the very first thing you should be checking for a website: their web address looks totally and completely bogus.

If Burger King is emailing you a link, that link should be http://www.burgerking.com/whateverelsefollowsthat. The important part is that little space between “www.” and “.com”. If it’s Burger King sending that email, it’s Burger King you should expect to see in that link. If their web address has anything like “www.wxyz.burger.hamburger.king.zyxw.com”, then run screaming into the night. Run hard, run fast, run far away.

But what if the web address looks legit?

Well, what does the website look like?

A real business website will have certain information on it: email, phone number, business address, prices for services, etc. If something is a scam, then it’s going to be missing a lot of these things. Let’s take the company that emailed me earlier today. In their follow-up email, they gave me their website to take a look at. Go ahead and take a look through the website. The home page has almost no information on it, other than a phone number. There’s no info about their staff, their CEO, the extent of their services. They don’t even have a mission statement or a picture of the big boss.

If a company doesn’t have a picture of at least one of the big bosses (CEO, CFO, founder, site manager, etc) you know there’s something up. These guys LOVE having everyone know that they are responsible for the company’s success. Hell, the website above doesn’t name a single employee!

Can you go through the website and tell me what services the company provides? Not just a basic list of the services. Can you look at the website and tell me details about the services? How much they cost? What exactly they include?Scams don’t go so far as to cover this on their sites. They want to throw together as professional looking a website as they can in a very short period of time.

I’ve never heard of this company before.

Google. Google is your friend. Google will help you find out things you need about a company.

So if you type the company name into Google, what comes up? If you Google a company, you should come up with a whole shit-tonne of information. Just for fun, I Googled the company I worked at before I went to university. It’s a small business, one location, that services and distributes equipment for a few big photocopier and postage meter businesses.  And you know what? There are dozens of results that pop up when I search them. There’s their website, job ads, customer reviews, former employee reviews, and all sorts of random bits of information about the company.

Now, do you know what came up when I Googled the company that sent me that email? Absolutely nothing. Their website didn’t come up, no reviews came up, nothing.  The only time I got results was when I Googled their name plus the word “scam” attached to it.

Did they outright offer you a job in their email?

No phone call. No interview. No back-and-forth emails. There was no cat and mouse to it. Just opened your email and *BAM* there’s a job offer.

Ya, that’s a scam. They don’t know anything about you. They don’t know if you’re qualified for their position. Hell, to be honest, there probably isn’t even a position!

Did they ask you for any details to get payroll moving, or to do a background check?

NEVER give out your social insurance/security number out to random people online. NEVER!!! The same thing goes for banking info, credit card details, or anything else that could be used to “look into” your identity.  This ain’t rocket surgery. If someone came to your door and said, “Hi, can I have your social insurance number? I want to do a background check on you”, would you give it to them? The Same logic applies online.

Wait, did you even apply for this job?

I’ve lost track of the number of jobs I’ve been offered that I haven’t applied for. Most of them say that they found my resume on Workopolis or Monster.ca. The thing is, I don’t have resumes posted on either of those sites. So how did they find me?

I had a local company message me once saying that I was “ideal” for a position with their company. They started telling me about the position, and it was nothing at all what I was looking for. It was strictly commissioned sales in insurance, which would mean no guarantee of a paycheck. It was also mainly based out in the country, well beyond any bus routes. I don’t have a car and take the bus everywhere. I searched online for the company and found out that the “recruiter” jobs are the most lucrative. Basically, they hire people to send out mass messages to “prospective employees”, and they get a commission for every employee they sign up. Then they get a commission for every sale that employee makes. It’s the very definition of “pyramid scheme”.

If you didn’t actually apply for that job, or they say they found your resume through a means you don’t even use (online postings, temp agencies you don’t use, an unnamed “friend” who supposedly passed your info along), then ignore it.

Do they want you to move money around for them?

This one is classic. They give you a check for $1,000. They tell you to deposit the check into your bank account. $250 is yours to keep. You then have to send the other $750 to their business contact. The only reason you’re sending it and not them, they claim, is something like “tax purposes” or some other financial reason. What came to be known as the “Nigerian Prince” scheme was basically the same thing: he gives you a check he can’t cash for “political reasons”, you cash it and keep 10%, and send the rest to his sister/mother/wife to help him escape his country.

Don’t bother. That check is going to bounce, and you’ll be on the hook for whatever money you sent their contact. They’ll disappear, you won’t be able to contact them, and you’ll never get your money back. Oh, and the money they told you to keep will be gone too since the check bounced.

Ok, but what if they just want you to buy something to do the job with?

I’ve had to pay for stuff to do my job before. I bought a special uniform shirt at my current job that I’m allowed to wear on Fridays. I’ve had to pay for uniforms at my old fast food jobs. But that special Friday shirt wasn’t mandatory. And my uniforms came out of my paychecks.

A real job will never tell you “you’re hired, just send us $189.99 for software to get you started”. If they really wanted you to start working, they would just give you the software to start with, and take it out of your pay somehow. They would make sure you had what you needed, were comfortable using it, and were able to do your job well enough to receive regular paychecks. If they want you to pay up-front for whatever reason, they’re just looking to take your money. You’re not getting it back. You’re not going to get paid. Run.

Does the email actually make any sense?

I know we can’t all write with perfect grammar and spelling all the time. But professional emails should be like 99% perfect. MOst of the scam emails I’ve gotten over the years sound like they were written by a 9-year-old who just discovered the Thesaurus feature in Word. Sometimes it’s really big words when a smaller one would be better and make no sense. Other times it’s a ridiculous amount of misspelled words. Most often, it’s sentence structure that makes little to no sense. Like, it just seems wrong and off.

You should check your email constantly throughout the day and quickly response to my messages,
because I’m your manager and I have a few people in this position and I communicate via e-mail only.
I am your mentor, I am interested in your success as well as you when you go through the trial period.
So i need you to connect your phone to Internet connection to receive my messages without delays.

This is exactly what that company from before sent me about my “duties” in the position”. Like, exactly. Spacing, wording, everything. See the weird sentence structure, the odd times to start a new line, and strange wording? Huge red flag!

This shit just makes no sense at all. What the hell would I be doing?

This is the one I have the most fun with. You see, I like to email these people back and string them along like I’m actually going to fall for their scam. I think I get that from my dad. He’s the only man I know who has multiple checks from different “Nigerian Prince” scams in a file at home because he was bored and answered their emails. I emailed that company back, asked what the job entails. Then I emailed again, asking what the job entails. They’ve gone so far as to send me a ridiculously vague Labour Agreement for me to sign and email back to them. They haven’t told me what the damn job is yet though.

All they’ve said is I would be in constant contact with the manager and would have to constantly check my email. That’s it. They’ll pay me $33.50 an hour to check my email and “perform tasks”. They haven’t said what those tasks are at all. I mean, tasks is a pretty broad term. Would I be transcribing record? Raising goats? Arranging travel for foreign dignitaries? Sending out my own scam emails claiming to be a manager for some reason? No clue! They haven’t said a damn thing!

REAL job offer would tell you what the job entails. They want to make sure you’re the right fit for the job before you start. I mean, if they’re going to pay you to work, they want to make sure you can fucking work, right? No company would go through the trouble of performing a mass job search, hiring a candidate, training them, and paying them just to find out they can’t actually perform their job and they need to be fired.

 

Well Sunshine, that’s the basics there. In the end, you really need to trust your gut. Does the offer seem too good to be true? Does it seem off to you? Does it give you that weird feeling in the pit of your stomach that you get when you’re walking home alone at night and hear footsteps behind you somewhere? Don’t fall for it then.

Hope your day is bright and shiny!

The Failed GrownUp’s Guide to Not Being a Complete And Total Ass Waffle of a Roommate

Well, here in my little University town, it is officially move in day for the residence students. That means that not only is campus flooded with new students and their folks, but the 7-11 I go to every freakin Sunday for my junk food meal of chicken wings and a corn dog is going to be beyond packed and utterly destroyed. That also means that Casa del Failure is packed again.

Once again it’s me, your favourite failure, with my precious Bowser Kitten and the Amazingly Awesome Boyfriend taking care of the place. I do most of the general cleaning int he common areas and small repairs; AAB does all the yard work, the really dirty work, and scrubs out rooms when people move out; and Bowser Kitten is in charge of pest control. We have our quirky and quite strange roommate A, who failed to learn how a slow cooker works in his 46 years on this planet (at least I think he’s from this planet), on the main floor with us. In the basement is our young student C, who Bowser absolutely adores right now, taking up the most recently vacated room. And our newest addition is a recent masters graduate we’ll call J, whose girlfriend was my next-door neighbour and babysitting charge more than 15 years ago in a whole other city.

Yes, once again I am living in a house full of dudes. This is a two ovary household still.

So far, things don’t seem too bad. The only real problem we had was with the people moving OUT of rooms. Over the years that I’ve been here, our basement has become quite the collection of randomness that people seem to think I either want or have a burning desire to get rid of for them. Seriously, our little storage area in the basement (which is really just a wide open area when you first come down the stairs with no organizational structure at all) is beyond filed, with things spilling out into the basement common area (where we keep the really really comfy couch).

 

Yes, that is a random tire, a whole bunch of styrofoam, an old broken fan, and a box of old used beer pitchers.  Seriously, what the hell do people think I’m going to do with this crap? It’s not like they left it behind and said, “I don’t have access to a truck to haul this off to the dump. Can I leave it here so you can take it the next time you go?”. They just left it behind in a big pile down there. And that’s not all that’s been left behind over the years, either.

 

That right there is most of a Christmas tree, a treadmill, a box of Christmas lights (which I am actually keeping and putting up in the living room because the lighting sucks in there), and a box of Christmas ornaments. A few of those ornaments were made for the guy who left them here by his freakin son!  So now not only do I have to find a way to get all of this crap to the dump, I have to haul a fucking treadmill up the ridiculously awkward basement stairs!

It gets worse too, Sunshine. When AAB moved in here, the landlord cut a deal with him and paid him to clean out the rooms and bathroom in the basement. Why? Because the last tenant who lived down there (who left the tires, a box of wires and chords, and a few old alarm clocks) was a huge pig. It looked like he had tried to sweep before leaving, but just left piles of dirt and debris all over the bedroom floor. There were old McDonald’s bags from months before, random school papers everywhere, and the bathroom hadn’t been cleaned once in the year he was living down there. AAB spent days down there hauling up garbage, scrubbing layers of mold off the bathroom shower, and basically sanitizing the entire basement.

Sad thing is, this isn’t the first or last time this has happened.  The most recent dude to leave here left behind the tree, Christmas things, random end tables everywhere (who the hell has so many tables for no reason? I mean besides me now), and just garbage everywhere. And of course, no one can forget the guy who lived in my room before me who didn’t vacuum for more than a year. Even after vacuuming the carpet multiple times, I wound up having an allergic reaction to something that had been ground in there and was covered in hives for 94 days.

Yes, 94 fucking days of hives. In the middle of summer, when sweat made the hives worse.

Living in a house you don’t own doesn’t give you free reign to trash the place or disrespect the owners (or your roommates). There are so many simple, little things that you can do to avoid pissing off everyone and someday ending up on some random person’s blog as their Roommate From Hell. So, here for your reading pleasure, I give you…….

The Failed GrownUp’s Guide to Not Being a Complete And Total Ass Waffle of a Roommate

#1: Clean Up Your Fucking Messes

This doesn’t just mean “scrape the berries off the ceiling after you try to make a smoothie in a blender with no lid and cause a giant purple delicious explosion in the kitchen”. Did you use the kitchen counter? Then grab a rag, or a clean sponge, or one of those disinfectant wipes, and wipe the fucking thing down. Use dishes? Fucking wash them!

It’s not rocket surgery here, but it’s the one thing I hear the most complaints about from people I know who are living with roommates. There’s nothing worse than coming home at the end of a long day, wanting nothing more than to throw a bunch of shit into a pot on the stove and make random deliciousness, and finding out that every fucking pot in the damn house is dirty and sitting in the sink. What makes it even worse is when you realize you haven’t touched the pots in days, they were clean right after you used them, and it’s the same fucking roommate using up everything all the time and just leaving it for you to clean.

This isn’t just in the kitchen, either. I could’ve avoided 94 fucking days of hives if someone had just picked up a vacuum every now and then and ran it across the carpet. It’s not a huge room, it only takes a few minutes. Hell, I got a shitty little handheld vacuum with a hose attachment to spot vacuum when I need it in here!

Just generally, clean up after yourself. You know all the shit your parents always bitched at you for, like picking up your socks and not leaving wet towels on the floor? I mean that shit. Pick up things you drop on the floor. If you take stuff into a common area, unless there’s a specific place you can put it, take it with you when you leave. I’m fucking horrible for this, always have been. I’ll take a pile of books, papers, and pens and just leave it somewhere when I leave the room. It’s something I consciously try to avoid doing, though, because I don’t want to be an asshole.

#2: Unless You’re Actually Trying to Wake the Dead, Pipe the Fuck Down

The student life is fucking weird, and you keep the most bizarre hours sometimes. I can remember staying up for like 36 hours sorting through research once, taking a nap at like 10 am and then waking up at 2 pm to start writing for the next 5 hours. Between the classes, the class work, working a job or two, volunteering, clubs and societies, parties, and some semblance of a social life, you find yourself doing strange things like going to 7-11 at 3:30 am for coffee and a RockStar, and then going back again at 3:30 pm for the same thing. There is no one set schedule that all, or even most, students live on. That’s why it’s so damn important to pipe the fuck down.

If you have roommates, unless you’re sitting in the same room together right this very second, you don’t know if they’re sleeping. Or, at the very least, trying to sleep. I once had a roommate who had this big old tv in her room, which was right next to mine. She didn’t care if I worked late the night before, or was up all night writing papers. By 10 am her TV was on and cranked as loud as it would go. I could go downstairs to the living room, turn on the tv down there, and STILL hear her TV. I couldn’t sleep during the day in my own room, let alone take a quick nap unless I had hit the point of total exhaustion where I could sleep through anything.

I admit that I’ve been the loud and annoying roommate at times. Sometimes, if I know everyone is awake, I love to blast some tunes in the shower and sing along. And just so you know, the Bowser Kitten has a better singing voice than I do, and he’s a fucking cat. Still, I now try to do that only when I know everyone is awake and most (if not all) of them are out of the house.

You generally don’t know when someone is sleeping, or napping, or trying to concentrate. I’m not saying you have to tiptoe around the house as quiet as a fucking mime. Let’s be honest here, mime’s are fucking creepy and I would never tell you to act like one! Just be a little considerate. Keep your shows and music at a somewhat reasonable volume.

Why am I sounding more and more like my mother while I write this?

#3: Not Everyone Is Your New Bestie

I’m a pretty solitary person usually. I practice voluntary hermit-ism. If it wasn’t for AAB, I would only leave my room to go to work and take a shit. I’m not totally anti-social or anything. I mean, if I run into a roommate while we’re both in the kitchen or something, I’ll chit chat. I’ve had roommates before who I was friends with, and we would sit around at night and watch tv together. I’m not living here to make friends, though.

All those TV shows where random people live in close proximity to each other and instantly become inseparable best friends for life are a lie. A bold-faced, spit in your eye, slap you across the face, help you move into a new apartment while they fuck your girlfriend in the closet at your old place, LIE!  Living under the same roof does not instantly make you best friends.

My one roommate “A” is constantly trying to strike up a conversation with me. If I’m chilling in the kitchen, I’ll chit chat for a bit while I cook. That’s fine with me. But just a few minutes ago I was cleaning the basement out. I was picking up mattresses and throwing them into a pile, moving the junk people have left behind, and “A” came downstairs. So there I am, hoisting a mattress up over my head while trying to walk around piles of junk, and he just starts rambling on to me about something-or-other. Next thing I know, he’s trying to push mattresses around back into the spaces I was pulling them out of! While I’m pulling stuff out of a tight spot, he’s pushing against and just rambling on about random bullshit.

I know, he’s lonely. He’s always trying to talk to anyone within earshot around here. I’ve taken to hiding when I hear his door open sometimes. It’s just annoying. Like, I just wanted to throw some old mattresses around and check all the Christmas lights that were down there in total peace. It’s my procrastination from writing. I clear my mind, blow off some steam, and lift heavy things over my head for a bit. I didn’t need him undoing my work while rambling my fucking ear off.

Don’t think that everyone in your house will want to sit around and let you talk their ear off. I have had roommates that I grew to be good friends with, some that I actively hate, but most of them were just sorta here. We didn’t chat, or hang out, or go out anywhere together. Sure, we talked when we were in the same room. I can tell you a few things I learned about each of them, and we had some laughs. Hell, I had a roommate I never spoke to outside of our kitchen who I bonded with over a few very large bottles of red wine while we tried to learn about wine tasting in an effort to sound smart at networking events (we failed massively and wound up very hungover instead). He’s moved out since then, and we don’t keep in touch. It’s not a big deal, we’re just not friends.

When you’re renting with random people or people you don’t know very well, don’t try and force the friendship. You might wind up friends with some of them, you might not. It’s no big deal, you don’t have to be everyone’s friend.

And NEVER, under any circumstances, try to force a new roommate into a “fun-filled” night in with you and all your favourite things. A friend had a new roommate try this, and said roommate pitched a fit when my lactose-intolerant vegetarian friend wouldn’t sit around eating burgers and drinking milkshakes for hours during one of the busiest weeks before exams.

#4: Is That Yours? Then Why The Fuck Are You Using It?

Years ago I had to walk home in the pouring rain, and the only thing that kept me going was the thought of grabbing my biggest pot and making ALL the pasta for me and a friend. Like, we were walking in the freezing cold, rain soaking through our clothes, umbrella ripped to shreds from the wind, and all we could talk about was smothering pasta in butter and sopping up the butter with fresh hot bread. Pretty sure the rain was washing away massive amounts of drool. We finally get to my place, change out of our wet clothes, head to the kitchen to start cooking……. and all my pots are gone. I had four fucking pots, and they were ALL gone! A few minutes of snooping and we found all four of them, full of my roommate’s food, used up in the fridge.

This wasn’t the first time, or the last time, this particular roommate took my cookware. I’d come home from class and my stuff would just be gone. When I announced I was moving out, he actually had the nerve to try and hide some of my stuff from me! In the end, I did lose a few things in the move because of him. He grabbed stupid random shit (a toaster, a fan, frying pan, three plates and a bowl from a 4-person place setting) and locked it in his room for the week while he was out of town.  I couldn’t get them before I left.

If you’re my roommate and you ask me if you can borrow something, 99% of the time I’ll let you. I can’t help it, I’m Canadian to a fault and way too fucking nice to say ‘no’ to someone in need. All you have to do is ask. And I know a shit tonne of people who are the same way.

If you’re the one who needs to borrow something, don’t just reach for it unless you know you can use it. Don’t assume that just because your roommate doesn’t hoard their things in their bedroom, they’re fair game for everyone to use.  This kinda brings us to my last point for the day……

#5: Treat Everyone’s Shit As If It Was Your Shit

An old roommate had a bunch of roommates over the years in his house. Most of them were pretty chill, easy enough to live with. One turned out to be a disrespectful piece of shit who cost my friend and his landlord money over the time of this guy’s lease. Carpets had to be replaced because he never vacuumed them or cleaned up spills. He would burn cookware and just throw it back into the cupboard. He’d borrow a jacket or a sweater and just leave it somewhere random. He peeled paint off the walls, left food to rot on the counters, and even put holes in one of the walls. Nice enough guy, just a fucking nightmare to live with.

You’re paying money to live in someone else’s house. Don’t treat it like you’re Motley Cru and it’s a hotel room in 1986. It’s someone’s fucking property, their home. How would you feel if this was your place and someone treated it that way? Nevermind the anger from being disrespected, you’d probably be fucking pissed off about the money you’ve got to shell out for repairs!

If you borrow something from someone, treat it like it’s your own. Take care of it, wash it, give it back in one piece, and if something does happen to it then you damn well better replace it. Don’t treat your place and your roommate’s stuff like this is your personal playground.

 

All in all, if you want to not follow any of these tips, just remember one thing: someday you might need a reference. Most of the apartments in this area require AT LEAST one former landlord as a reference and more and more are asking for references from former roommates. So if you’re a giant dickwad to your roommates, lose and destroy their things, destroy the room you’re renting, and are just a horrible fucking human in general when it comes to renting, what are the chances anyone would want to give you a good reference?

Well Sunshine, the sun aint’ shining anymore today. I’m going to grab my sandwich and a glass of whiskey, throw on the comfy pants, and throw on a horror movie or three. Hope any of you moving for the start of the school year made it through the move safely, and without losing your shit (literally and figuratively).

Mental Health, Mental Help

 

This is the fourth time I’ve started this post in 13 hours. Woke up twice last night trying to figure out what to say. I spent years trying to ignore it or deny it. When I was younger and my symptoms first popped up (9th grade, right after I started at a new high school in a new city where I knew no one), I was made to feel like certain people wanted me to be sick because it made me wrong, and then they could laugh at my family because they had the weird little freak in high school.

During my lunch break, I would get this strange feeling. My heart would start racing and pounding like it was going to jump out of my chest and run down the hall. My breathing would get fast like I couldn’t get enough air in a regular breath so I switched to tiny micro-breaths. Sometimes I’d break out in a sweat, or I’d get too dizzy to stand. On more than one occasion I threw up in the bathroom by my locker. I went home on my lunch maybe 10 times by the middle of the semester.

I can still remember the very last time I dared to call home and have mum come pick me up. There was a full office staff, a few teachers on their spare periods, and maybe half a dozen students in the office with me that day for whatever reason. Mum came into the office to pick me up, and one of the secretaries pulled us aside where no one could hear us talk quietly. She suggested my mother have me speak to the school counsellor, and maybe get recommended to a therapist for a short time, because I appeared to be having some sort of issues with anxiety.

Well, mum was having none of that. She fucking exploded on that poor secretary, in front of everyone in that office.

“What do you MEAN she should see a counsellor? She was perfectly fine before I sent her to this school! How dare you tell me my daughter is some sort of freak! A psycho! Don’t you know what happens to people who see a therapist? They’re branded FOR LIFE as a crazy psycho! You want my daughter locked up in some NUT HOUSE for the rest of her life? Is that it? Have you seen her grades? She’s getting A’s in all her afternoon classes, could some FREAK do that? How DARE you tell me my daughter is damaged, how DARE you tell me my daughter is some sort of psycho FREAK!”

It’s been like 20 years since then, so that’s not exactly word for word, but you get the gist of it. She ranted like that for a good 5 or 6 minutes, referred to me as a freak more than a dozen times in front of a few of my classmates. The car ride home was a total joy! She ranted on even more, telling me that there was nothing wrong with me, that she couldn’t believe someone would think I’m some sort of psycho, that if I ever let myself see a therapist or psychiatrist they would just put me on meds and then no one would ever hire me because the whole world would just know I’m crazy. The rant went on even more once we got home!  I swear, that woman ranted on and on about this for a good two hours on and off that day.

After that day, I stopped telling my mother pretty much anything for many years. I made up some stupid story about a problem with the ventilation system in the hallway my locker was in, and that was why I got sick at school so much. It was the stupidest story, so totally obvious that I made it up on the spot, but she believed it. Hell, she still believes it. We saw an article about my old high school online, and she started telling people about the ‘ventilation problem’ and how it could’ve killed me. She was more willing to believe that the ventilation system in a newly built school was faulty in a way that only affected one student than helping me work through my issues.

So, for years I tried to ignore what was happening inside me. I beat myself up over things I couldn’t control. Instead of working to understand the racing heart and quick breaths, I locked myself away in my room so no one could see the panic. I did the same for the suicidal thoughts. The one time I did hurt myself and opened up to my mother, she flipped out on me again. She said that if I didn’t “cut it out and just act normal” no one would ever love me, I’d be shoved in an institution, and I’d die alone. Totally what you should say to a 16-year-old trying to deal with mental health issues, eh?

I tried to ignore all of this for years. I’d lock myself away from the world so they couldn’t see me struggle. I drank, I did a lot of drugs, I pushed myself to somehow be “normal” in the most fucked up ways. My parents were high school sweethearts who married and had three kids, for example. So, I thought if I found love early enough, I could be normal like them. But the forced isolation made it hard to meet people I could connect with, and I wound up engaged to a drumming ninja (he once put “ninja” on a job application as his current occupation), and got kicked out of my parents’ house to be with him. He treated me like shit, abused me, starved me, and burned the only copy of my first (and to date, only) novel I had written as punishment for something. But in my head, being with him made me “normal”, because…………. I don’t even know anymore.

It wasn’t until more than a decade after that first incident in the school office that I finally sought help. I had gone back to university, and the school had free counseling services. By that point, my anxiety and depressing were pretty bad, but I was still trying to cover them up. I wasn’t sleeping, I was eating like crap and chugging cheap malt liquor while I “studied”. Before a big panic attack, sometimes it feels like all my emotions drain into something deep inside my skin, where they can’t escape or be really felt. I feel this mix of heaviness and nothingness like I’m going to burst out of my skin and run ranting and screaming into the night. I stayed up for three days and finally passed out in our living room (I was living with friends near campus by that point), and rolled over on a pair of scissors in my sleep. The pain was some weird sort of release, and I started cutting myself right after that. It was the cutting that made me finally made me go to counseling services.

I wish I could tell you everything changed for me that day, that everything was magically fixed and I’m living a perfectly “normal” life like my mother wanted. That’s not how things go, though. I’m still fighting through this, learning how to handle both depression and anxiety. I’m learning the patterns they tend to follow (the depression gets bad right before or after a major panic attack usually) and am able to tell the people closest to me when I can feel my anxiety getting worse. I still don’t open up to my family about any of this, though. I tried to years ago, when I first sought help, and my mother denied everything I said. It’s healthier for me to just not tell them about any of this.

There is no magic cure for this. There is no one-way to deal with mental health issues. I’ve tried a lot of things over the years; some of them worked for me, others didn’t. That doesn’t mean those other things don’t work for other people, though. Going back to school brought out some huge stressors and triggers for my anxiety, and a lot of people I know who suffer through this have said the same thing. So, I just want to give you a little help, a little guidance. You don’t need to follow everything I say, or even try any of it. It’s just options, things to keep in mind when nothing else seems to work.

It’s not easy dealing with this shit. I still get panic attacks. The night I started posting about back-to-school help was because I was trying to work through a major panic attack that kept me up until almost 5 am, drained me of all my energy, and left me with a dark cloud over my head that made me wish I could just stop existing. I’m pulling through though, and I know you can too Sunshine.

Tip #1: Grounding

A friend recommended this to me years ago. It’s what she would do when she was living in a dorm and her anxiety would get bad around exam time. Basically, you’re distracting your brain from the inevitable overanalyzing of the ridiculousness of your panic. In my support group back in school, one thing we all agreed on was that our anxiety attacks made no sense to us. It’s like, there’s no reason for you to be panicking, but you still can’t seem to calm yourself down. You try to calm down, and you’re reminded that the fact that you’re panicking makes no sense, so there must be something wrong with you to be making you panic. And that makes you panic more. The more you try to calm yourself down, the more focused you wind up on the panic, and the worse it can get.

Anxiety Grounding.jpg

I know it says right in the little picture thingy there from Tumblr that it helps “when you feel like you have lost all control of your surroundings”. If you get that feeling in your more panicked times, then you can definitely give this a try. I don’t get that feeling, but this still works for me for other reasons.  That kind of leads me into my next tip….

Tip #2: There Is No “Right” Way to Be Have a Mental Issue

Sometimes having anxiety can mean heart palpitations and sweat. Other times, it can mean completely blocking out the outside world, staring off into space, unable to process the things going on around you. Some feel frightened, some are jittery, people get tense or worried or can’t focus on anything else except that anxious feeling bubbling up inside them.  Some of the happiest looking people suffer from depression. It’s not all locking yourself in a dark room and staring off into the nothingness around you. As a master of the Customer Service Persona, I can honestly tell you that it is entirely possible to feel hopeless and worthless like your entire life is one giant failure after another, like the world would be a much better place if you could just stop existing in it, and still slap a smile on your face and laugh about things. I mean, Robin fucking Williams suffered from depression. That man, to all outside appearances, was the exact opposite of depression.

There’s no right or wrong way to have anxiety, or a panic attack, or a depressive episode, or any form of depression in general. I check WebMD for a lot of things (even though somehow, no matter what’s wrong with me, it tells me I’m dying a slow and painful death). According to them, a panic attack should last like 10 minutes, and I should have fear of dying and a sense that I’m choking. I have NEVER had any of that. That panic, that feeling of terror, like my heart is going to burst out of my chest and the world is going to collapse around me, it can last for hours for me.

There is a tonne of different things associated with each and every mental issue out there. You don’t have to tick off every symptom or every box to have a “proper” mental disorder. You don’t have to take medication or see a therapist or psychiatrist long term to have a “proper” mental disorder. You can have the same issue as someone else, have different symptoms, handle it differently, and you can both STILL have that disorder. There is no one way to have an issue with your mental health.

Tip #3:  Regularly Practice Self-Care

I have a list of things that I consider “comfort things”. They’re things that I somehow find soothing, for whatever reason, and I fall back on when my brain starts to feel all fucky. They’re things that comfort me, that bring me to a place where I feel safe and secure, even if that place is just in my head. And the list is all over the fucking place.

  • soup
  • Vine compilations on YouTube
  • the movie Hackers
  • the movie Tank Girl
  • books about serial killers
  • books about cults
  • books about random facts
  • hugging my snuggle pillow
  • flannel
  • slipper boots
  • throwing a blanket over my head while I watch random shit on my computer so it’s like I’m watching it in a tiny blanket fort
  • painting my nails in dark colours
  • 90’s grunge music
  • 80’s new wave music
  • indie music from the 80’s and 90’s
  • Chilean red wine
  • fuzzy socks and lots of lotion

Now I don’t use all of this at the same time. I’ll throw on my slipper boots, maybe a flannel shirt or sleep pants, throw a blanket over my head, and watch a few short Vine compilations while I hug my snuggle pillow.  Or I’ll throw on a bunch of lotion and my fuzzy socks, paint my nails, and watch Tank Girl. I’ll throw on some Talk Talk and Psychedelic Furs in the background while I curl up with a good book about serial killers.

Everyone has their own little comfort things. You need to figure out what it is that is comforting to you. I doubt Charles Manson and Tank Girl will bring most of you much comfort, but it works for me.

Tip #4: Exercise, Get The Fuck Outside

I walk everywhere.

If I don’t get out of the house for a day, I make sure to at least open the blinds for a bit. The cat likes to sit in the window so I tell myself I’m doing it for him, when really just getting a little bit of sunlight can really help me some days.  If it’s nice enough out, I’ll open the window and let in some fresh air.

When I’m in mid panic attack, I completely close myself off in my room as much as possible. But when I’m not, I try to get outside at least a bit each day. I really should be exercising more, but I don’t. It really helps some people manage their mental health issues, and I know it’s helped me in the past. I have too much going on around me right now to focus on that though.

#5: Don’t Eat Like Complete Shit

Again, this is something I’m complete shit at. I have my good weeks, where I’m packing celery and carrots with me at work, and sipping tea all day. Then I have my days (or weeks even) where it’s nothing but pizza, french fries, and red wine.

Usually, the more hours I work in a week, the better I eat. If I have to pack a lunch or dinner to bring to work, I wind up with shit like veggies and hummus, soup, and mushroom meat (I also eat less meat and eat shit like “mushroom meat”, which is faux meat made out of mushrooms and soy, which I can only find at the Multifoods a little ways from my house). If I’m stuck at home, working 4-hour closing shifts every fucking day, I wind up eating a lot of frozen pizza for dinner, a lot of leftover pizza for lunch, and a pot of coffee for breakfast. This is usually when my anxiety starts to flare up a bit too.

For a lot of pizza, there’s a strong correlation between what you eat and how you feel. Eat like shit, feel like shit, basically. If you find that eating certain foods, or eating a certain way, worsens your mental state, then don’t fucking eat like that if you can help it! I know, that’s pretty fucking hypocritical of me to say, considering how I eat usually. This isn’t the easiest advice to follow, and no one is going to be perfect at it. Give it a whirl and see if it helps you out at all, though. Keep a food diary or something for a few weeks or months. No need to count calories or any shit like that. Just keep track of what you eat, what you drink, and how you feel.  If you see a pattern emerging, then fucking run with it.

#6: Stop Fucking Self-Medicating!

Again, fucking hypocritical of me to say this, considering how much wine I drink. I admit, there have been times when I could feel a panic attack coming on, and I reached for a drink. Working in a liquor store, I have constant easy access to alcohol and have to learn about it somehow. So, probably more often when I should when I feel the panic building, I grab a bottle of Chilean cabernet sauvignon, my book about wine (flavours, pairings, smart sounding shit), and curl up with a giant fucking glass or four.  Sometimes it calms me down a bit. Other times, I wind up still awake and drinking wine at 4 am, mindlessly reading through Not Always Right posts and going through old notebooks from 2003.

I’ve had friends who swear by smoking pot as a means of controlling their anxiety. Others have had a hard time controling it, using the anxiety more as an excuse to smoke than anything. I’ve known people to buy medication off the street instead of getting it prescribed. Yes, it’s a great way to get it cheap when you can’t afford your meds sometimes. But you’re playing with doses, and brain chemicals, and all sorts of stuff that can royally fuck your day up.

Don’t use substances that aren’t prescribed to you as a means of controlling your mental health. Yes, a drink or smoke from time to time can be fine. It’s a social thing, a way to calm you, a way to feel normal. But you can really easily start becoming dependant on these things just to feel normal. It’s a short fall into addiction when you let something be the only things making you feel “normal””.

#7: Find Your Fucking Triggers

I know, triggers are a joke to a lot of people. “How are you going to make it through life? There are no trigger warnings in the real world!” Except there are, fucking everywhere. Movie ratings, video game ratings, music ratings, content warnings on TV, allergen warnings on food, warning signs on the road, warning signs on heavy equipment, warning labels on medication……… The only difference between these and a trigger for mental health is that mental health isn’t always taken seriously. You can take a sick day for the flu, or for a broken leg, but most jobs and schools don’t give you mental health days.

Are there certain things that trigger certain feelings in you? No, you can’t avoid them completely, you can’t yell at people for bringing them up (unless they’re really fucked up shit and that person knows how it affects you), and you can’t hide from them for the rest of your life. One of my biggest triggers is finance. I’ve got a metric shit-tonne of student loan debt, a bunch of credit card debt, and feel like I’m going to die in debt someday. The thought of not making my bill payments sends my heart racing, more than it does for the average person. I know that when my hours at work take a drastic cut, there’s a good chance I’ll get thrown into a full-out panic attack at some point.  I can’t avoid that though.

Know your triggers can help you better prepare. Like I said, I KNOW that getting my hours cut can result in a massive-ass panic attack, which then leads to a depressive episode. I make sure I have some of my comfort items ready and waiting for me. I recently went from getting 40 hours a week at work to being scheduled for 15 hours. I know that by next pay day, I will most likely get thrown into a major case of anxiety. I have my soup stuff (powdered mix, noodles, and dried veggies from Bulk Barn), a 10 hour Vine compilation video, a new nail polish, some new murder books, a bunch of flannel ( I am Canadian after all),  and a copy of Tank Girl ready for that. No, I won’t be able to stop a panic attack. But I can help ease my way through it, or through a major anxiety episode.

 

I wish I could say that following all of this has somehow cured my mental state magically, Sunshine. I wish I could say that I’m a happy, mentally healthy, productive member of society now. I’d be lying to you though. Just today, I got so overwhelmed with my current situation (so many roommates, showing the house to prospective other roommates, hours cut at work, things with the boyfriend) that it started really getting to me. I sat there wondering what the hell would happen to this place if I just ceased to exist. Where would my Bowser Kitten be? Who would take care of this house? What kind of shape would the boyfriend be in? Have I really made a difference, or would there always be someone else could’ve stepped in and taken my place for each of these things? What’s the point of being here?

So, I made soup. I threw on some old Vines, and then a bunch of Rage Against the Machine. I typed, I read random useless facts, I played with eyeliner. I can’t fix myself completely, but I have to leave for work in 35 minutes and need to be able to fake my way through my shift. Luckily, I have the Work Bestie with me tonight. She’s one of the few people I actually open up to at all about this, so I can let her know I can feel it building again.

 

Moving Anxiety, or How to Stop Worrying and Move to a New Place

True story time!

Once, I agreed to help a friend move. I had just helped her and her roommate had just moved into their place a few months before but had a lot of problems with their landlord. He had covered up holes in the foundation, so there were bugs creeping into the house, and he refused to fix anything. Basically, it turned into a hellhole pretty damn fast.

I showed up the morning of the move ready to move boxes and lift heavy things, maybe even corral cats (she had a bunch of them) and keep them calm while we moved shit. Instead, I walked into a house that had barely packed.

Now, when she moved in there she noticed problems right away, so they didn’t unpack everything. There was still a bunch of stuff in boxes all over her living room, and they just rearranged their lives around that. But that was stuff that she didn’t need at the time: baby books, Christmas decorations, childhood memories, extra plates. Everything else in the house had been unpacked, and a good 75% of it wasn’t packed up yet the morning of the move.

Now, we only had the truck for a few hours, and the guys helping with the move had an event they had to attend that night. We had a very set amount of time to get things done in and weren’t counting on nothing being packed. So instead of just loading shit onto the truck, bringing the truck to the new place, unloading the truck, and then repeating this, we had to completely rethink our plan. We wound up breaking into two teams: one on the truck moving shit, and the other back at the house packing. I got stuck on the fucking packing team with one person who insisted on sorting and organizing clothes hangers for an hour, and another who cut out super early.  We were all stressed, snapping at each other and fighting, trying to just get a shit-tonne of shit done in a small amount of time.

This totally could’ve been avoided with a bit of planning. I’m super fucking anal when it comes to planning and organizing shit for moving because I’ve been through and helped with some pretty fucked up moves. I wrote once before about looking for a place to move to (and I’ll probably make an updated post like that again soon), but there’s so much more to it than just finding a place.

So here’s some tips and shit to help you get through your move, and prevent you from having The Move From Hell.

1: Figure Out What The Hell You Need — Dorm Room

College Check List

For a lot of you out there, moving into residence or dorms at school is the first time you’re going to be moving out on your own. There are a shit-tonne of lists out there on the internet, like the one above, telling you every little thing you’ll need to bring with you.

Please, ignore these lists.

Most lists will tell you that you need to bring cutlery with you when you move into a dorm. I know someone whose parents went over a list like that with him and decided he needed cutlery. Like, ALL the fucking cutlery. They bought him enough cutlery for like 8 place settings, PLUS a giant knife block, PLUS multiples of all the utensils you can think of (ladles, vegetable peelers, spatulas), PLUS like 4 cutting boards. Thing is, the kid lived in a dorm room in a residential tower, had a full meal plan, and had to share a 10’X15′ room featuring very little storage space with a roommate. They each had a desk, bed, and dresser, and that was it. Where the hell was he supposed to keep all that shit?

There is a tonne of stuff on these lists that you probably don’t need, like my friend above.  And there’s a lot of stuff that’s not on the list that you will probably need. It’s all about you, where you’re going, and what you’ll be doing. If you’re heading down to Florida for school, you’re not going to need a parka and snow boots. If your dorm room is some tiny little rinky-dink space that you have to share with another human being, then bringing a mini fridge, floor lamp, area rug, and a bunch of stackable drawers is probably a really shitty idea.

Dorm Check List

You’ve gotta think about what you fucking want and need, too. Do you want monogrammed towels and mugs and socks, so you always know when someone else is using your stuff? Then fucking do it up! Maybe you want to bring your annoyingly cute Emoji pillows to decorate your bed or your favourite stuffed lion you’ve had since you were 2 (yes, I have both of these things in my room at this very moment).  I’m comfy just sitting around the house in sweats and flannel shirts (ALWAYS flannel!!!!), and just switch into some old jeans with the same shirt when I need to go anywhere. I can honestly wear the same sweats for days. I’ve had friends who just CANNOT do this, and need a fresh outfit every day. They need a hell of a lot more clothes for their week than I need with my two pairs of sweats and my cozy flannels.

You’ve just gotta know yourself a bit, bring what you think you need. And if you forget something stupid, there’s always a dollar store somewhere. Need forks? Loofah? Socks? Ramen? Pens? They’ve got all of that at the fucking dollar store. Don’t stress yourself out too much about packing every single little thing you may possibly ever need.

2: Figure Out What The Hell You Need — Apartment

Ok, moving into an apartment is a bit different than dorm life. You have things like a kitchen and a bathroom that isn’t shared with 30 other people. You’re still going to need all the things you’d bring to a dorm, you’re going to need so much more than that too though.

The first thing you should do is talk to your roommates. Most young people today can’t afford an apartment all of their very own, so there’s a really really good chance you have AT LEAST one roommate. Hell, I have 4 roommates and a cat to help pay the bills around here. You NEED to talk to the people you’ll be living with to figure out what you need.

first_apartment_checklist

Figure out what you guys will need. Is someone bringing a TV? Anyone have a couch? Does your place have a microwave? What essential items are each of you bringing? I mean, it makes no sense for you to have three roommates, all four of you bring a microwave, and no one has a lamp. If you don’t want to go off of one of the lists online of everything anyone could ever need for their apartment, then at least look around you where you’re living now.

Do you have books? You’ll need somewhere to put them. Do you like to eat ever? You’ll need shit to eat off and with. What is your morning routine like? Some people need a single cup coffee maker, while others need a 12-cup pot, blow dryer, straightening iron, and lighted mirror to apply their makeup in (and there is NO shame in that, we all do it at some time!). Figure out what you need for your day-to-day life. Then figure out the things you’re used to that don’t seem all that important. Seriously, I didn’t realize how much I loved a squishy bathmat until I had nothing but an old towel and a cement floor. Then figure out who can bring what.

You’ll probably have some shit that no one just has lying around to bring. So start pricing shit out! Bathmat, microwave, cheap-ass dishes, a big-ass shelving thing for the kitchen and/or storage area, Tupperware that isn’t already full of your mother’s casserole….. it all adds up. Figure out what you really really need, buy as much cheap shit from dollar stores and second-hand stores, and check out things like yard sales and free online ads.

While we’re talking about talking to your new roommates, make sure you’re not bringing duplicates of things you have no room for. I have a large love seat that converts to a sofa bed. It was my grandma’s and she gave it to me before she died. It is very dear to me, I throw on slipcovers to match my roommate’s furniture, and it fits in fine. Fortunately, I only had a regular couch and big comfy chair to compete with for space in our living room. In the past, I’ve had to fight for room in my own bedroom, because a roommate had enough bedroom furniture to furnish a few rooms. She thought she was doing me a favour by displacing my stuff and letting me use her crappity-ass furniture she collected off the side of the road on move-out day the end of last semester.

Are all four of you planning to bring microwaves? Toaster ovens? Stereos? TVs? Figure out who has the best of what for where you’re living. As long as no one bought their shit brand new (which, to be honest, I have known only very few students and first-time apartment dwellers to be able to do), sell off what you don’t need to buy what you do need. If you have four TVs coming in, write up some paperwork saying you can all own it equally, and sell off the other three. Then use that money to buy other things you can all own equally. If, when you all move out, there is any dispute over who takes what (usually it’s the original owner taking the shit, unless everyone sold off really expensive shit), sell everything off and divide the proceeds.

But that is for Future You do worry about. Right now you have better shit to think about, like……

3: Pack Up Your Shit So You Know Where It Is

Don’t throw everything into one giant bag or box. You’ll wind up having to unpack EVERYTHING before you have to go to bed, and that shit fucking sucks. Even on my family’s ridiculous Move From Hell, we had the basics all separated: there was one bag with emergency underpants and all the hardware for the bed frames in mum’s van with the cat; we each had a backpack as an overnight bag (toiletries, jammies, change of clothes, my stuffed lion Pokey) with us during the move, and there was a box of stuff marked “First To Unpack” with shit like toilet paper, cleaning stuff, towels, and a shower curtain in it. Believe me, after the day we had, we needed that.

——-Ok, really long story short, my family’s move from hell back to my home town involved the movers bringing a van 1/3 the size we needed, calling extra family members from 2 hours away to come help us, some of mum’s good China being thrown under dad’s power tools in the moving van, bugs getting into almost ALL of the liquor (except what 18 year old me took for her own stash), and a day starting at 7am and going on until almost 2am. To top it off, our rental house we moved into had mold (which I turned out to be super allergic to), my parents’ bedroom had no heat, the laundry shoot emptied onto the furnace, and the dishwasher was plugged into an extension cord pulled through a hole in the floor that also had the washer and dryer plugged into it. It was fucking paradise.

Your move should be as painless and stressless as humanly possible. Moving to a new place itself is rough enough. Having to deal with misplaced shit and unpacking EVERYTHING just adds to the chaos. Take a few simple steps to help things go smoothly.

First, pack a box labeled “FIRST”. This should be left out in the open, where it’s plain to see that it’s the first box that needs to be opened. It should have essential shit you wouldn’t pack in an overnight bag, like toilet paper, bed sheets and blankets, cleaning supplies, extra towels, and maybe even a few dishes. If you know you can’t function without coffee in the morning, then pack the coffee and fucking coffee maker in there too. Whatever will make that first night and morning in your new place easiest should go in there. And don’t get into the trap of thinking, “Well, I’ve planned everything out, and the move should be done by 8 pm, which gives me plenty of time to unpack a few things”. That Move From Hell my family did was all planned out too. We didn’t know the truck would be too small. We didn’t know the movers would have only their newest employees working. We didn’t know there would be accidents on the highway extending out 2 hour drive time. There was a whole tonne of shit that extended our day. Our simple, “Get the cat unpacked into the bathroom upstairs, and get everyone’s basics unpacked and bedrooms set up before 10 pm” plan was WAAAY off. I stayed up until almost 2 am because I’m fucking stubborn and wanted the bed frames set up and sheets on the beds. And this had all been carefully planned to be done by 10 pm AT THE FUCKING LATEST!!!

Basically, plan for the worst first. Pack one bag as a weekend bag: all the things you’d pack for a weekend away at your folks’ place. Throw in anything you seriously are worried about too. My grandma always put a special wedding bracelet in her bag, because it was supposed to be passed onto every woman in our family on her wedding day. I used to pack my laptop; now that I use a desktop computer I backup everything to an external and pack that along with my iPad and chargers for EVERYTHING. Then, back extra shit you know you’d need for the next day or two in the FIRST box. You know you’ll need a shower, need to wipe your ass at some point, maybe need a fucking drink or four, so pack all of that in there. I like to pack snacks, cat food (for Bowser, not for me), a fresh flannel shirt (it’s calming, I’m Canadian), a book, and enough caffeine and coffee for a week’s worth of Irish mornings.

#3.1: Pack Shit Up Logically

Everyone has their own methods. I’m not here to give you 97 different methods of packing up to move to a new apartment. You want to know what I do, or what I want to do, you read my fucking blog. Don’t like my advice? Tweek it, or look for some more advice online somewhere.

From what I’ve found through my dozens of moves (both my own and helped) is that colour coding really helps if you’re moving somewhere with multiple rooms. Moving into a dorm? Just pack like shit with like shit, label the boxes, and you’re done. Have shit going to the kitchen, living room, bathroom, and possibly multiple bedrooms? Use a different colour Sharpie (or a reasonable facsimile thereof) to designate rooms. Red is the kitchen, blue is the bathroom, purple is the living room, and so on. You can even grab a piece of bristol board from the dollar store in each colour and throw it on the wall or door (whatever you would see first) so everyone knows where to go. And fill people in on your colour scheme: you never know when a colour blind person is amongst your helpers, or someone just didn’t notice the blue paper outside the bathroom and decides to put a box in storage.

Don’t want to colour code for whatever reason. Then just label the shit out of your boxes! “Beth’s room, last door on the right” gets rid of any confusion as to where shit goes. Even labeling something a little more than just “kitchen” can make a world of difference. “Kitchen – spices”, “Kitchen – bulk foods”, “Kitchen – shit to eat off”…. all of these little add-ons to the box label make your life just a tad bit easier. Chances are you’ll want shit to eat take-out pizza off of before you want your 10lbs bag of rice.

#3.2 Check Your Fridge and Freezer — Before AND After

So when we first left my home town, my aunt decided there was no possible way we could leave behind all the veggies in the massive vegetable garden in the back yard. Seriously, this thing was bigger than the room I pay almost $400 a month for in a shared house. We had corn, three types of peppers, cucumbers, pumpkins, tomatoes, potatoes, radishes, lettuce…… picture the world’s biggest salad bar, and we could fucking stock it.

My aunt decided we need tomatoes as memorabilia.

So, she took those tomatoes and threw them in the cooler with the frozen food left from the freezer in the kitchen. Her job for the move was “cleaning supplies and food”, and she was on top of things. When we moved stuff into the kitchen, she started putting food into the fridge and freezer to keep it from going bad. Those fresh tomatoes went into the freezer.

Months later, when I (the oldest of three) was babysitting, we found half a dozen rock hard frozen tomatoes in the freezer. The only logical thing to do was to whip them at each other. We had a frozen tomato fight until I whipped one really hard and high, hitting the low-hanging beam in the kitchen. I fucking dented the metal studs on it with a tomato.

When my parents finally noticed the damage (a few years later), they asked what the hell I hit the beam with to cause such a big dent.

“One of Judy’s frozen tomatoes from the garden”

When we left that house, they fucking took inventory of EVERYTHING.  They knew what was coming out of the freezer, and exactly what would be going back in. There were no stray tomatoes freezing into rock hard murder spheres at this house. There also were no forgotten chickens hanging on a hook on the wall by the basement freezer (dad did this once when I was a kid. Took us weeks to find where all the flies were coming from, since I was the oldest and couldn’t climb up on the freezer to see what was behind it). Keep track of your food, all of it.

In the week or two leading up to the move, stop buying food as much as possible and just eat what you have (I try to do this once or twice a year, just because I tend to stock up on shit when it’s cheap and then run out of room in the kitchen). Eat as much of your frozen food as possible. Treat yourself to frozen pizzas from last month’s sale for breakfast on Saturday. Eat frozen corn with every meal for a week. Whatever the hell you have to do, do it. I like to make stew, chili, and soup with just whatever is laying around the kitchen. It’s a hell of a lot easier to transport, keep track of, and unpack three or four Tupperware containers of chili and stew than it is making sure your massive fucking collection of chicken breasts stays cold enough to not thaw on moving day.

If you’re moving in with roommates and you all do your own grocery shopping, then it might be a good idea to inventory EVERYTHING. Like, write down what food you’re bringing into the house with you, so you no one “accidentally” takes any of it while you’re unpacking. I had a roommate who would take my food “accidentally” all the time. She even had the nerve to steal my cheese (repeatedly) and use it to make dinner for “everyone”, meaning she made tacos and shredded all of my new brick of cheese to hide in the back of her fridge for when she wanted it.  I did what any rational, normal adult would do in that situation: I wrote a passive-aggressive poem about my cheese running away (which I just spent a good hour digging through old notebooks looking for), and left it on the fridge for her.

Running Cheese

#4: Pay Your Fucking Movers

Most people use their friends to help them move. The universally acceptable method of payment for helping a friend move is pizza and beer. You don’t have to get all fancy with craft beers, but don’t pick on the vegetarians for wanting no meat on their pizza. You’d be a real asshole if your friend busted his ass all day moving your shit, and you piss all over him for his food choices. Unless he wants mayonnaise or pineapple on his pizza, shut your damn mouth and fill his with copious amounts of ‘za.

#5: Unpack Your Shit Logically

Now, after you spend all that time with the colour coding, and the “First” box, and an overnight bag, don’t fuck it up now. Get your bed set up. Put your furniture where you want it. Then start unpacking the stuff you’ll need first. Get your clothes in the closet, the food in the cupboards, and cleaning supplies under the sink. Plug in the coffee pot, and put the coffee grinds and filters by it. Get anything you’ll want to use early the next morning out of the boxes and on the shelves.

Don’t start with your books, or DVD collection, or anything that will take time to sit down and organize because it’s on display. Yes, your shit is going to look pretty rad once it’s all unpacked. But things like eating and properly caffeinating are a bit more important deciding if you’ll group your DVDs by genre, alphabetically, or by colour. Maybe get things like your closet and your kitchen set up first. Then you can curl up in your nicely unpacked clothes, make a drink in your unpacked glasses, and work on your stuff.

Back to School How-To

Hey there Sunshine!  It’s the middle of the night, going on the very early morning hours. I had a bizarro day (may have witnessed a very injured and mentally unstable young man steal a wheelchair and run away from a hospital ER), and that’s making my anxiety go through the roof tonight. When the Amazingly Awesome Boyfriend was heading off to bed, I had to sit up in front of the TV for a bit doing my deep breathing, because I was sure I was about to have a heart attack.

Oh well, hope your night is going much better!

This whole combination of bizarro situations and ridiculously high anxiety DID remind me that school is starting soon, though. I moved a month into high school to a whole new city, to a newly opened high school. Somehow, my parents thought that the fact that the school was new meant that no one there knew each other yet, so I should have no problem making friends. Had to finish my fifth and final year at a new school back in my hometown. After a few years off, went back to college, only to leave after only getting my one year certificate (instead of the 2-year diploma) due to an incident there. Years after that, went back to university as a “mature student” and spent more than 5 years working on my degrees, only to let anxiety get the best of me and not apply to graduate school.

So believe me when I say that I KNOW back to school anxiety.

The thing is, there are so many different things that can worsen your back to school anxiety: financial woes, social anxiety, moving to a new place, the unknown in general, education itself, fear of the future……….  I keep seeing these articles on how to handle your Back To School Anxiety, but they only have band-aid solutions to things.  Sure, lavender might help you relax, but will it help you save money on school supplies and textbooks? Eating lots of veggies is great for your all-around physical and mental health, but how will that help you meet people? Companion animals are great, but most dorm rooms don’t allow them.

So what’s a student to do?

Hopefully, I can shed a little light on that for ya’ll. I researched things back then for myself, and research them now for friends and roommates. I’m digging through my ancient external hard drive, stacks of old half-used notebooks (I dare you to find a troubled writer who doesn’t have at least half a dozen of these in their home), and my very large pile of Research I Printed To Read Later But Never Did. I’m combing Tumblr blogs (I’ll have links to a few that are super helpful), old PowerPoint presentations, and that forgotten “Stuff For My Blog” folder in my Bookmarks. Basically, I’m digging through all my shit to find that shit that works best for you.

So, I’ll try and pour as much of this anxiety-fuelled awakeness into my research for now. Hopefully, I’ll have some posts for you on this all this week, while you’re getting ready for Back to School.

 

The Failed Grown Up Guide to Not Being a Colossal Douche

For-Rent.jpg

I’ve been showing our house to prospective renters the last few days, Sunshine, and I feel there’s something I need to address. I know that finding a new place to live is hard, that renting a room in a house full of strangers is intimidating, that the people you move in with will have a very real and lasting impact on not only your stay in that place but your life in general.

Believe me, I get all of that.

Since I first decided to go back to school, I’ve moved all over this end of town. I’ve lived with good friends, acquaintances, ex-boyfriends, an ex-boyfriend AND a current boyfriend at the same time, and total strangers. It’s never exactly easy looking for a new place, moving in with new people, or learning to deal with the people you’re now living with.

That being said, no one needs to be a complete douche canoe when they’re looking at places. Just showing this place to prospective renters, I have seen more douchebaggery than most people will see in a dozen life times. There has been enough douche in this house to build a douche canoe, with matching douche paddles, to be floated down a douche stream to the Douche Rapids, over the majestic Grande Douche Falls,   where the douche rocks will obliterate it into a million douchey pieces.

That’s a metric shit-tonne of douche.

So here, for your very own reading pleasure, I give to you……

The Failed Grown Up Guide to Not Being a Colossal Douche

Step #1: Show the Fuck Up

I had three people scheduled to come here today to see rooms. Two showed up.

I had one person scheduled for yesterday. No one showed up.

I have lost count of the number of times we have had someone scheduled to come here to look at a room, and they just don’t bother showing up. And it’s not like we give them no options in contacting us. The landlord gives them his phone number, I Facebook message with them, we all email back and forth, I’ve even given my phone number to a few of them to text in case they’re running late (which I stopped doing after the random 3 am attempted sexts from dudes who saw the place).

Now, I have a job. The other people in this house who help me show it have jobs and/or school. We have busy fucking schedules.  None of us are just sitting around the house, waiting for people to saunter up at their leisure to peruse the joint.

Today, I woke up at 4am to go over the list of things I needed to do today. I was up by 6am when the boyfriend left for work. I showered, drew in my eyebrows, and then cleaned until 9:30am when I left for work.  I worked until 3pm. Had to pick up cat food and dish soap, so I skipped my break in order to run to the grocery store in our plaza. Power walked home with a backpack full of groceries to be here by 3:25. Put away groceries, changed, did a quick sweep of the floors and ran a dust cloth over the tables, and was sitting on the couch waiting for my 3:45 appointment.

They never showed up.

I busted my ass cleaning all morning, then busted my ass at work without a real break, just to bust my ass to get home and get right to the cleaning, all because some douche nozzle said he was showing up here at a certain time and he never fucking showed.

The people showing you a possible place to rent bust their asses off to make sure they are there to show it to you. It doesn’t matter if it’s some tiny bedroom in a shared apartment or a penthouse fucking suite: someone is taking time out of their day to show you that potential new home. Be there, be on time, and if you’re going to be late for the love of all things sacred PLEASE let them know!

Step #2: When you DO show up, show some basic fucking courtesies. 

I have had people show up here in the middle of a driving rain storm, soaked right to the damn bone. I offered towels to dry themselves off with and to throw their socks and shoes on the heating vent to dry off a bit while we toured the house. One guy refused the towel, refused to take off his shoes, and insisted that his three friends do the same. Instead, they thought it was perfectly acceptable to track mud and water through the house.

Of course, after they left I had to report back to the landlord. I’ve studied sociopaths and psychopaths for years, so he sees me as a pretty good judge of character. The first thing I mentioned was their total and utter disrespect for the place while viewing it. If you can’t be bothered to show some basic fucking respect while you’re just viewing the place as a potential tenant, then what are the chances of you respecting the place while you live here?

That dude emailed the landlord and said he’d like to take the place. The landlord said “thanks, but no thanks”.

The place you’re looking at isn’t the only thing being judged. Whoever is showing you that place is checking to see if you’re a fit for them, too. No landlord wants to rent out their spaces to people who are going to just fucking destroy them.  If someone can’t bother to take off their muddy fucking shoes, then what are the chances they’ll sweep or vacuum or mop EVER?

The house manager here for years used to rent rooms to a bunch of his friends and frat brothers. A lot of them were pretty cool and easy to get along with. The one dude who lived here when I moved in became a really great friend to me and used to call himself Uncle Sandwich to my kitten (he’d feed him meat from his designer sandwiches from the Italian grocer’s down the road). Most of the time, renting to people he knew worked out. One frat brother caused some serious issues when he moved out though.

You see, my bedroom is one of two that is carpeted. Fratty McFraterton lived in this room before me. Mr. Manager never bothered to ask him about the places he lived before, or talk to anyone he lived with outside the actual frat house. If he had, he would’ve known that this guy wasn’t exactly someone who cleaned up after himself. As it turned out, he didn’t vacuum his room once in the more than a year he lived here.

When I moved in, I vacuumed and sat down on the floor to organize my books a bit. And that’s when the hives started popping up. Because that damn carpet hadn’t been vacuumed in at least 13 months, dust and food had been ground into it and had to be cleaned out. Like, Mr. Manager had to go out and rent a carpet cleaner and we had to steam the entire fucking room. But the damage had already been done.  That summer and early fall, I spent 94 days covered in hives. 94 fucking days! I saw doctors and specialists, had my eyes swell shut, had to carry an EpiPen and even had hives on my butthole.

The Landlord caught wind of this. The fact that he let someone rent a room here (a damn nice room, for a damn good price, with AC and everything), and that person showed so much disrespect was just mind boggling. The carpet has been cleaned half a dozen times since I moved in, and it will never be the same colour it once was.  He doesn’t want more people coming in and destroying his house like that again.

So the first impression you make, the respect you show me or anyone showing you a prospective place, has a huge role in whether or not anyone wants you to live there.

Step 3: You’re a grown up. Fucking act like one!

It’s perfectly understandable that sometimes you can’t go visit a place on your own. Some people take a friend with them for safety reasons. Others come from out of town and have someone showing them around, or someone who volunteered to drive them. Some people need a health aid, or a translator, or have a parent or two with them to show them that they’re not moving into a crack den. And some people have just never moved out on their own before, and have someone along to make sure they ask all the right questions.  That’s all cool.

But it’s you who is looking to rent the place. You’re the one who would live there, you’re the one who needs info, and you’re the one being judged here.  Having your mommy come along to talk for you is just going to give us something to laugh about later.

Had a young man come here the other day to look at a room, with his mother in tow. Well, actually it was more like she was looking at the room while he tagged along. She made a big show of telling me how her Special Little Man was 25 and moving out on his own for the very first time. I swear, she talked about him the same I was I talk about my baby kitten, who is an Extra Special Very Good Boy sometimes. He was going to go to university and get a BA in Psychology, which would make him a Very Important Special Little Man who would have people just throwing jobs at him. He didn’t have time for silly things like cleaning and cooking, so we’d need to do that. He was going to have a degree, did I have any idea what kind of doors that would open for him?

I so wanted to say, “Yeah, it’ll open the fucking door to the liquor store where I work. I’ve got the same damn degree sweetheart, with a second honors degree on top of that. And I still manage to scrub my toilet and wipe the counters down after I use them.” But I put on my best Customer Service Face, smiled and just said,”Oh ya, ok” while I nodded my head over and over.

The Special Little Man barely spoke. He seemed like a nice enough guy, the total opposite of his mother. A little spoiled, but totally eager to get out from under his mother’s thumb and into the real world. If his mother wasn’t there, I never would’ve known he can barely cook, and had never done laundry, and wasn’t allowed to even use a broom at home because he had better things to focus on. I probably would’ve recommended him to the landlord, told him he seemed like a nice respectable guy.

As it is, that boy won’t be renting a room here. Especially after his mother announced she’d be here every other weekend “at the very least” to make sure we were “taking care of him”.

Step 4: Read the fucking ad!

Single Bed for Rent.jpg

Our ads are pretty basic. It shows a few old pictures of the house, tells you the price of the rooms, you share common areas and a bathroom, and it’s a mature home; no loud parties, no selling anything illegal from the house, all utilities included except cable and the internet. It flat out says that you are renting a ROOM and that you will be SHARING a bathroom, living room, dining room, and kitchen with everyone else.  I come right out the second people walk through the door here, and I show them which areas are common areas.  That’s how people have always shown me apartments and homes in the past too.

The ad pretty much tells you what you’re paying for. You get a room all to yourself, with a lock and key and everything. You share a kitchen and living room with everyone. You share a bathroom with one or two other people. The landlord tells you that when you email him saying you want to see the house. I tell you that when you walk in the house to see the rooms.

But this is a small sample of the things I’ve still heard from prospective renters in the last year or so:

  • what do you mean I have to share a bathroom with someone?
  • can’t you just not rent out the room next to me, so I get the whole basement to myself?
  • I thought this room came with a private bathroom.
  • what do you mean I have to share a kitchen?
  • you mean it’s just a bedroom?
  • I thought I was going to be seeing a full apartment.

I think you get the picture.

The fucking ad has PICTURE of the HOUSE in it. It talks about the BEDROOMS for rent. It mentions all of the COMMON AREAS that you would be SHARING with other people if you lived here. It ain’t fucking rocket surgery to realize that this is a room available in a house.

And the last two steps combined bring me to our next step.

Step 5: It is what it is. You’re not getting any more out of it.

You pay for a room here. You cook for yourself, you clean for yourself, you take care of yourself, you even shop for yourself. You are a grown-ass person, who will do grown-ass things, and take care of their damn selves. We do not have maid service or a chef. I’m not here to take care of you. You are paying for a room, and that’s it.

Last week we had a fellow look at the rooms downstairs, and start asking about the maid service schedule. He asked about grocery services. He wanted to know who would be doing the cooking. When he was told that he had to do all of that himself like a Big Boy, he had the fucking gall to try and lowball the landlord for rent to make-up for what was “missing”. He wanted a $400 room for less than $200!

Remember the woman with the 25-year-old Special Little Man who was going to be so fucking important someday? She was fucking appalled that her Special Little Man would have to do things for himself. He was far too important to do things like feed himself, or wash a fucking dish. She seriously expected everyone in the house to chip in and hire a maid to come in and scrub the floors, do the laundry, wash the dishes, and scrub out the bathrooms three or four times a week. If we weren’t willing to do that, then she wanted a discount on the rent.

People come up with all sorts of crazy-ass demands when they come look at the place. I’ve had people try to demand we get a brand new BBQ because ours is old and used. I’ve had people demand no one keep things in the kitchen but them. People have wanted to have the entire basement or main floor to themselves, without paying to rent the other rooms there. They’ve wanted other people to cook for them, to clean for them, to do their grocery shopping, to be their private guide to the city. Hell, I even had one girl who lived here try to turn me into her personal stylist, even though I have ZERO sense of fucking style!

Unless an ad says something like, “Private maid cleaning/cook available for a price/ room and board, meals included”, don’t expect any of this shit. Your parents, or your last roommate, or your last partner may have done these things for you. But was anyone doing any of this for them? Nope, and it’s not getting done for you here either!

A Few Final Thoughts

If you go looking for a place to live, and you act like a total and complete douche, no one is going to want you to live there.

If you come here and start bragging about how smart you are, how your degree is going to mean people will be throwing jobs at you, no one here is going to be impressed.

If your mommy comes in here to tell me that you’re far too important and special to do anything for yourself, or you come in here demanding someone else do your cleaning for you, no one here is going to jump up and cater to your every fucking need and whim.

If your mother comes in here and refers to you by little names that sound like something I would call my kitten, the Most Precious And Perfect Fuzzy Little Baby Man,  I will do my best not to burst out laughing in your face. But that’s as far I’ll go for that.

Basically, if you come in here doing any of the douchey bullshit I’ve just warned you about, I am going to tell everyone about it. I’ll tell my boyfriend, our roommates, my coworkers, maybe even some of my favourite regular customers. And we’re not going to sit back and revel in your awesomeness. No, we’re going to laugh our fucking asses off, make fun of you, and try to figure out who in their right mind would actually want you as their roommate.

So don’t forget, Sunshine: don’t be a douche. Don’t let your friends be douches. Don’t try to out-douche other douches. Just be a fucking awesome person, like are right now.