Move From Hell: My Move Here

So far, today sucks. The battery in the smoke alarm downstairs was supposed to be changed over the weekend. Normally, that responsibility would fall on whoever is living in the bedrooms downstairs. Apparently, the guy living in the basement has never had a smoke detector in his house before. Neither has the creepy dude on the main floor with us. The battery is low enough it’s making that beep sound every few minutes, and neither of them had any clue what it was.

Now, most people would just ask their roommates, “Do you hear that beeping sound? The one that’s slowly driving me insane? That one right there? Give it a minute or two and it will go again. What the hell is that?”. That would be the logical thing to do. Gee, I don’t know what that strange sound is, but no one else seems especially bothered by it. Maybe I should ask them what it is, just to ease my mind. Seems like the logical thing to do, right?

Not for these precious little turd buckets!

I was already in a sour mood this morning by the time the coffee was made. Someone had been messing with the physical connection for the internet (the internet that is in MY name), disconnected our Android Box (which we just use for Netflix and YouTube, since we can’t figure the damn thing out because we’re Really Very Old). So completely uncaffienated, I had to start playing with cords and wires and such, connect things with flashing lights that I’m not entirely sure how they work, hoping that the internet would come back to life for me. I mean, I can’t check my email or update the blog without internet, so my day would just be pointless without it. From there, it was picking up the trail of leaves and mud someone tracked in during the night, sweeping the entrance way, moping the messier spots, and calming down the ever curious Bowser Kitten who doesn’t quite understand how mops work.

Mind you, this is all before I’ve even had a chance to put on a bra for the day, and all the while that damn smoke detector is beeping.

I finally finish all of that up, start up the coffee maker, and sit down to turn on the computer for the day. Pages are still loading up for the day, and I start getting Facebook messages from the landlord. Roommates had been messaging him this morning, telling him that the smoke alarm was going off all night and no one seemed to care. They seemed to be worked up into a tizzy, thinking the house was about to explode and burn to the ground while we all slept. Why was this thing making noise? What was it doing? Were we all going to die?

So there I am, still braless and uncaffienated, explaining to the landlord over messenger that no, the smoke alarm was not constantly going off. The battery is just low and needs to be changed, and apparently, the Amazingly Awesome Boyfriend and I were the only ones with enough brain cells to figure that out. In fact, if no one figured that out by the time AAB got home from work today, he was going to change the damn thing himself. We’re used to doing a good 90% of the things around here that need to be done outside of washing your own dishes and picking up your dirty underpants off the bathroom floor. Hell, sometimes we even have to do that for people! Even though all these other people live here, we are the ones who do the lawn, shovel the snow, change the furnace filter, get rid of the mold and mildew in the bathrooms, clean the floors, scrub the toilets, do any and all basic home repairs around this place, and the list goes on. We don’t get paid to do this, and no one else ever has any inclination to help us. And that is starting to drive me mad.

Now I’ve lived with my share of lazy idiots around here. I lived with some pretty bizarre humans in my other dwellings too. But this is the place I’ve lived in longer than any other place in my adult life. I went through hell to move into this place, and for a long time, I really did love this house. But right now, I’m wondering if all that hell was worth it.

My ex-boyfriend lived in the house when I moved in here before he was my ex-boyfriend. One of his frat brothers lived in the room I was going to take and moved out a few weeks before I moved in. Having just finished school and have no job yet, I was trying to make my savings last as long as possible for food and rent. So, instead of renting a moving van, I decided to move everything over here by hand. I only lived a few blocks east of here at the time, so it made sense in theory. I made charts and lists, dividing up what would be moved with what to space out load weight, what could be moved when, and how to move the few larger items I was bringing with me. Since the room was furnished I couldn’t bring my bed or both my dressers with me, but I did need my bookcase and at least one extra dresser. In all, the little bit of furniture would be moved in my mother’s car with the heavier things like textbooks. Everything else would be loaded into reusable shopping bags and backpacks and moved over here by foot, over the course of two weeks.

Did I mention this was taking place in July? During a slight heat wave? I already prefer the colder weather, since it’s so much easier and more socially acceptable to put more layers on to stay warm, instead of taking clothes off until you’re walking the streets naked. The first day I could get things into the room, my friend/new roommate and I vacuumed what turned out to be more than a year’s worth of food, dirt, weed, sunflower seed shells, and other assorted grossness from the carpet. I curled up on the freshly vacuumed carpet to start putting books away……… and the hives started.

They stayed for 94 days.

I had to see half a dozen doctors and specialists over the next few weeks for this. One doctor put me on a ridiculously high dose of anti-histamines for a while, which only stopped my face from swelling up quite so much. I passed my brother on campus one day on my way into the clinic, and he didn’t recognize me at first. My eyes swelled almost shut, my lips swelled up almost three times their size (a doctor actually measured that for me for some reason), and I was bright red and blotchy. I went off the meds for a day to get an allergy test done, and they had to give me a shot of something just so I could ride the bus home afterward. I was so swollen that I could barely move, and they were afraid the skin on my joints might split from the pressure and dryness. Eventually, I was put on a ridiculously high dose of a steroid (which made me pack on pounds) to amp up the ridiculously high dose of anti-histamines I was already on.

Sweating made the hives worse. So did fabric rubbing on them, and sunlight. Still, I had to finish moving. So, all hivey and itchy, I threw on loose cotton pants and a long sleeve shirt in 100-degree weather and walked the few blocks to and from this place while carrying a giant backpack and 2-4 reusable shopping bags. When I would get here, I wouldn’t be able to move without crying. I’d unpack and organize the best I could, and then just sit as still as possible in the air-conditioned living room and eat with my new roommates. The combination of fast food (since it hurt to cook and be around a hot stove), the steroids, and the inability to move without fresh hives popping up meant I gained weight like crazy. I put on a good 60lbs in those 94 days.

We did everything we could to clean this place and try and make the hives stop. The then-boyfriend rented a carpet cleaner and we steamed the carpet, walls, and furniture here. We then scrubbed the walls and baseboards again, cleaned the windows, even washed the ceiling. Nothing seemed to help, but at least this house didn’t seem to make the hives worse, just as long as I didn’t move too much. One doctor finally concluded that my system was in complete shock and was sort of resetting itself. There was so much filth in the carpet here, and there was something in there that I was allergic to, most likely mold from not being cleaned. But when I touched the carpet, there was so much filth that when my body reacted to the mold, it reacted to everything else in that carpet too. Suddenly, I was having a hundred mini allergic reactions at the same time, to practically everything. There was no cure, and this could happen to me again randomly at any time. My body was in such shock that my immunities just exploded for 94 days.

Again, I was moving all through this. The then-boyfriend helped me walk things over here a few times. And the awesome new roommate I was gaining drove over twice one day towards the end of the move to take as much as humanly possible in his car. My mother came over one day, and we managed to move a short dresser, a bookcase, and a whole lot of books in a few trips. Everything seemed to be going smoothly again. All I had to worry about was getting rid of the small bit of furniture I had, most of which came from an old roommate of mine who had moved back home when he graduated.

I took out an ad on Kijiji, looking to sell off my furniture cheap. One young man said he would take everything, and offered me a good $50 more than I was expecting to get. I set up an appointment and moved everything out of the basement room I was then renting and onto the driveway. He showed up late, with his mother, in her minivan. Her very FULL  minivan. Like, crammed as full as I think a minivan could ever be crammed. His mother, apparently, didn’t know they were picking up furniture and he never thought to tell her that. In the end, he took a mattress. That’s it. With days left on my lease, I had to get rid of a boxspring, dresser, desk, chairs, tv, clothing rack, and a whole bunch of drawers.

Thankfully, a very good friend of mine offered to pick me up in his truck, and we could take everything to Goodwill to be donated. He didn’t know how bad my hives were, though. When he got to my place, he just stood there staring for almost a full minute before we could get moving. When we picked up his girlfriend afterward, she did the exact same thing. I was red, blotchy, itchy, heavier, bloated, and not even wearing my eyebrows.  We managed to get everything donated, and I then collapsed on the cold hardwood floor in our living room while the itching and pain took over.

It took me almost three whole weeks to move in here fully. As a result of moving in here, I spent 94 days worrying my throat was going to swell up and I would die at any moment. I had to go to job interviews looking like a diseased Muppet. I almost had to miss my cousin’s wedding because of the hives, but they managed to clear up almost two weeks before the event. Still, I spent the whole night paranoid that the heat and humidity in the tiny hall would make me break out again. I was poked, prodded, had more blood drawn in a few short weeks than I have in my entire life combined (and they drew a tonne of blood when I was quarantinned the summer before, too!), and even had a doctor stick her finger in my butt to see if the hives were migrating internally.

For a long time, even after the then-boyfriend and I broke up, I really did love this house. Hell, I wanted to make an offer to the landlord and buy it at one point! But buying this place would mean honoring the current leases because I’m too nice to do the whole “house got sold, everyone move out thing” that previous landlords have done to me. I can’t stand living with roommates anymore. Just in this house alone I’ve had the two current guys who don’t know the basics like what a smoke detector is, or that leaving food out in your room breeds fruit flies, or that piling garbage bags full of random stuff you’re hording on top of a heating vent can melt the plastic garbage bags. I’ve had to deal with It (the girl who would blast music at midnight so loud that it shook things, and then get mad when we asked her to turn it down because we all had to get up in the morning), The Tweedles (two guys who seemed to think that threatening to rape me would get me to do stuff for them like dishes and grocery shopping), the woman who chopped cabbage on the kitchen floor and left behind a broken treadmill, the guy who just stopped paying rent and left behind a Christmas Tree and all the ornaments his kid made him, the guy who couldn’t figure out that leaving doors wide open meant the ever curious Bowser Kitten could get outside and random animals could get inside, and a whole host of randoms who stayed a matter of weeks before moving on. I can’t take much more of this.

I don’t get paid until next Thursday and have to very heavily budget my money these days, so buying a new 9V battery is the difference between having milk for my coffee this week or not (and drinking it black hurts my tummy too much to do), so AAB is buying one. Otherwise, I’d change the damn thing myself. Buddy downstairs could go get the damn battery, but he’s too busy ignoring the beeping and messaging the landlord that he thinks the house is going to blow up or something. And the creepy dude just keeps asking me over and over what that noise is. Dude, it’s the same noise you asked about an hour ago!

I went through hell moving into this place. I really wanted to turn this place into a home, somewhere I didn’t have to live with random people. But this is all getting to be too much right now. I’m thinking of getting out, of packing up the timid yet fierce Bowser Kitten and AAB, maybe buying a tiny house out here, or getting an apartment of our own. I’m going mad here, I tell you. Mad!!!!

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Move From Hell: Moving back to Windsor

My roommates are driving me crazy. I know I say that a lot, but it’s true. Every day I feel my sanity slowly slip further and further away from me. Yet, I stay here. Is it because I love this house? Because this is the only real home I’ve known for years? Because I have some sort of connection to this place? Well, a bit. But mostly, I really REALLY hate moving.

You see, in all my years of moving and helping others move, I can only ever remember one move that was not a total disaster in some way. Ironically, it was our move from my hometown of Windsor to Sarnia, a place I grew to loathe for many years (but have grown a strange fondness for in my oldish age). The only thing that went wrong was an overly helpful aunt with a heart of gold trying to make sure we left my childhood home with sufficient memories with us. This resulted, many months later, in discovering just how much damage a frozen tomato thrown at full force at a sibling can do to drywall.

My family had a lot of bizarre happenings when any of us moved. When my cousin was learning to drive, our aunt moved out into a smaller town in the county and we all came to help her. In a blizzard. With our other aunt letting our newby-driver cousin drive her, my sister, and myself there. Aside from the sheer terror that comes from driving down a county road at 80km/h with a new driver in the middle of a blizzard, no one thought to tell us that there was a steep slope to the left of our aunt’s new driveway. Once we finally arrived at the new house, our driver jumped from the vehicle and rolled down a large embankment.

Another time, helping the same aunt move into a new place, I enlisted the help of my then high school boyfriend. He tripped and fell while carrying a dresser drawer down a flight of stairs, and wound up laying in a pile of my aunt’s underpants.

Of all of our family moves, though, nothing will ever top the move back to Windsor. This should have been a great day, considering how much I despised Sarnia at the time. I spent the few weeks before the move saying goodbye to close friends in the area. My little group of Petrolia-partying friends even made me a very sparkly scrapbook, which I still have tucked away in my memory box today. I was packed and ready to go days early. My parents had the moving company come out to survey the house and our load, to get any special instructions, and to go over general details of the move with my parents. Dad even rented a small U-Haul truck to take the contents of the garage and shed.  It all seemed so simple.

If only we had known.

First off, the moving company showed up with a truck maybe half the size of what we needed. We managed to cram all the major appliances and furniture onto the truck, but still had all of our boxes left. Somehow, the movers grabbed our overnight bags from the hall closet, and the cat carrier for our cat, but not any boxes. We had to dig through the truck to get those things unloaded, and then fit boxes wherever they would fit. Everything that was left was loaded into the smaller truck dad had rented.

We were somehow able to get a trailer last minute and hook it to the back of dad’s smaller truck. My cousin and I crammed as much of the smaller garage things into the back of his pickup truck and attached a pull trailer with the log splitter on the back of that. My mother had my grandma, my sister, and our precious kitty Peaches in the family minivan. They wound up so crowded in there, my sister had to shift into weird positions just to keep things in place. Every time they turned left, brooms hit her in the head. Whenever they turned right, a basketball hit her in the head. She was diligent in making sure Peaches was comfortable the entire time.

In all, it took us almost twice as long to pack everything up as we had scheduled for. We rolled out of Sarnia almost 4 hours late.

When we finally got to the new house we were renting for the next ten months, we started counting the days until we left. The basement, we were to find out later thanks to my mold allergy, was infected with black mold. There was no real heating or cooling in the master bedroom, just lime green shag carpeting. The laundry shoot led straight to the furnace, and the washer and dryer were plugged into an extension cord dropped through the kitchen floor. Months later we would have the house appraised in the vague hope of buying and renovating it. We were basically told that the only way to fix up that house affordably was with a gas can and matches.

As the rest of the day unfolded, more and more things went wrong. Somehow one of the movers put some of mum’s good China int he garage, under a very large box of heavy power tools. Boxes of liquor were left outdoors for hours, with some bottles only having pour spouts instead of real lids. That New Years Day, my cousin and I were to discover the hard way that having them left like that meant that bees and fruit flies flew into the bottles. I can still picture the stream of vodka flying out of my cousin’s mouth as my sister pointed and screamed: “You’re drinking bees!”.

Family members came to help us unpack at what they thought would be the end of the day. Instead what they found was a yard full of cranky, sweaty, hungry people not even halfway done unloading the first truck. My parents did get pizza and beer for everyone, paid movers included, seeing as it is the universal payment for helping someone move. That only gave us a very short break in a very long day, though.

I didn’t get to bed until after 2am that night. Being as stubborn as I am, I insisted on getting everyone’s bedframes put together and all the beds made with real sheets so we could all sleep soundly. You ever drop a screw in lime green shag carpeting?

The next day, dad tried to open the closets in the master bedroom so my parents could unpack their clothes. The doors were mirrored sliding doors, much too big for the closets they were on. Keeping the doors on gave my parents a little over two inches on either side to reach their arms in and root around for what felt like the right outfit. The shower doors in the upstairs bathroom were the same problem. After dad finally managed to pry the doors off and put up a shower curtain, he found that the showerhead aimed a very light stream at his chest. He had to crouch down and almost kneel to take a proper shower. It was like showering at Danny Devito’s house.

As we unpacked, we found more and more things wrong. Everything stored in the basement had to be moved onto wooden pallets because the walls dripped when it rained. Mum lost some of her good China plates that were cracked beyond repair by the weight of the tools thrown on top of them. Poor Peaches could smell the dogs that lived there before us and hid behind the couch for close to a week. Oh, and did I mention a local small religion used to hold ceremonies in our house, and members would drive by to pray and take pictures sometimes.

Very few good things came from that time. I did get two big closets for 10 months, which was great. My sister learned the hard way that when you use spray Pledge on your dresser, you need to be very careful not to get any on the hardwood floors. And Peaches had hours of fun running down the hallways, sitting down, and sliding into the closet doors. Eventually, we caught on to his game and left the hall closet open with a large stack of blankets on the floor.

At one point in that house, I came down with a very bad case of pneumonia thanks in part to the mold there. While that would normally be a story for another day, this post needs some cheering up, so here it goes:

My parents were out for their anniversary dinner, while I was left in charge of my sister, my brother, and my brother’s best friend who was visiting from Sarnia. I was feeling like crap, so I went into the basement to lay down and watch some TV. At some point, I passed out. When I woke up, I hard one hell of a time breathing. My sister called up the restaurants my parents had wanted to try and have dinner at, but they had no one there registered with our very unique last name.

She ended up calling my uncle. He and my aunt came over as fast as they could drive. My aunt stayed home with the others, while my uncle broke every traffic law imaginable to get me to the hospital. We ran red lights, we sped, we passed over the solid yellow line. We were panicked rebels.

When we finally got to the hospital, I was barely conscious. My uncle helped me into the ER, and up to the triage nurse’s desk. She asked what the problem was, and my uncle started telling her that I couldn’t breathe and had passed out a few times and was kinds turning blue a bit. The nurse held up a finger to him, looked at me and said, “No. Let her take a deep breath and tell me.”

My uncle looked her dead in the eye and screamed, “If she could breathe, do you really think we’d fucking be here?!?!” I was admitted to the ER right away after that.

In the end, it turns out my parents registered under a different name at the very first restaurant my sister called. They registered under Griswold, the name of a National Lampoons movie family for whom everything goes wrong any time they try to celebrate anything.

So, that’s the first in a long line of stories of moves from hell. I’ll have more for you later, Sunshine. But right now my wine glass is empty, my pizza was just delivered, and the ever cuddly Bowser Kitten needs to be fed.