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.

 

Millennials Are Killing………..

Millennials Are Killing Pt 1

I’m not sure if I’m sick of these headlines and articles yet, or if I’m thriving off them. It seems like at least once a week, some older relative or former co-worker posts an article on Facebook about Millennials killing something followed by the usual rant.

This Generation is so spoiled! Thinking the world owes them everything on a silver platter, sitting around on their Facebooks and Twitters and burying their faces in their phones! Back in my day we woke up every day and ate our cereal, put on a suit to go to work, used bar soap to wash ourselves, golfed on the weekend, and wore whatever retailers told us to! These spoiled kids are killing [insert industry here]! Stupid younger generation with their 3 jobs and unpaid internships and beanie hats and avocados! If they just stopped buying avocado toast all the time, they’d be able to buy a house and live like we REAL grown-ups do!!!

Of course, if an entire generation DID stop buying avocado toast, then Millennials would probably get blamed for killing the avocado industry.

Basically, this younger generation, the Millenials, doesn’t like things and stuff. They’re turning their back on the tried and true pastimes and goals of the Baby Boomers, and are just ruining life as we know it for everyone. They’re sitting there in a Mr. Burns-esque pose, bent over their avocado toast, laughing maniacally as the world just falls to shit around them.

And people seriously seem to fucking believe this.

For anyone who doesn’t know, the Millennials is one freaking huge generation of people born in more than a 20-year span (anywhere from 1980 to 2004, depending on who you ask). We (yes, technically I fall somewhere in that massive span) were raised riding bikes and shooting at pixelated ducks while that annoying little doggy bastard laughed every time we missed.  We came in when the streetlights came on, or else our parents were blowing up our pagers, and later our massively huge cell phones. We spent our days at the mall and our nights in mIRC chats ASL-ing the night away. We were raised outside and in front of a screen at the same time.

Millennials Will Kill

Somehow, by learning how to fix a bike chain AND program the clock on a VCR, we’ve become Enemy #1 in the eyes of the older generations.  And it’s total bullshit.

Basically, from what article after article says, Millennials aren’t spending money on the same things their parents did. Between the housing market, low-wage jobs, increased tuition rates coupled with a demand for high education for entry-level positions, and stagnant minimum wage in the face of increasing inflation, Millennials have to be so much more careful with how and where they spend their money than generations before them. You hear and see story after story of people working 2 or 3 jobs, drowning in tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars in student loan debt, having to have multiple roommates well into their 30s just to keep a roof over their head without moving back in with their parents. We simply just don’t have the disposable income generations before us had. We can’t afford vacations or new cars or houses. Many of us are trying to find a way to afford to eat every day or afford to make their loan payments AND pay rent.

So, instead of industries adapting to the current market finding a way to appeal to the Millennials they are losing, we get article after article claiming that it’s the Millennials fault that these industries are starting to lose ground. We are somehow killing industries that refuse to adapt to survive. It’s not “survival of the fittest” in the business world anymore; it’s “we want your business, you spoiled whiney fucks, why won’t you just give it to us”.

What exactly have we been accused of killing so far?

  • golf
  • napkins
  • movie theaters
  • class
  • vacations
  • bar soap
  • relationships
  • Home Depot
  • Sears
  • cereal
  • the NFL
  • the 9-5 workday
  • suits
  • style
  • beer
  • diamonds
  • Applebee’s
  • Buffalo Wild Wings
  • Oklahoma
  • romance
  • stiletto shoes
  • America
  • patriotism

And that’s just the short list! Don’t believe me? Go use the Googles, as my mother would say. You’ll come up with pages and pages of articles, and articles of lists of articles (looking at you Buzzfeed). Somehow we’re killing sit-down restaurants by not wanting to dine in, while killing fast food restaurants by not wanting take-out, and also killing multiple food industries by not cooking at home. In short, we’re not eating and it’s killing everyone but us.

I think the thing on this list that really pushes my rant-basket off the cliff is Sears. We have a Sears here at our local mall, and I haven’t bought anything from there in more than 5 years. The last thing I got there was a dress for a fraternity formal back in University. I’ve gone in there, looked around at things, but there was never anything there for me.

Now, that place was THE SHIT in the 80’s! On our family outings to the mall, we’d spend half the day just in Sears. We actually have childhood stories from all of our time in Sears. Once when I was still in diapers, I decided I had to make the biggest poop any small child had ever made, so I squatted down in the middle of an aisle and filled my diaper. Another time my mum had to get me Christmas presents from Sears, so my grandparents took me off into the mall so I wouldn’t see them. When mum came looking for us where we were supposed to meet, she somehow missed me in the window of a maternity store trying to tear the clothes off a mannequin. Like, we were there a lot. Everyone was.

Sears used to be where you could buy your appliances, your suit and tie, toys for the kids, and maybe pick up some new perfume or have lunch at their tiny restaurant. But with more and more Millennials not being able to afford homes, we don’t have the need for appliances. With more people going into trades and service positions, we don’t need suits for our jobs. With more and more of us putting off having kids, there’s no need to shop for toys. There’s also more competition around. Why go to the Sears makeup counter when I can stop at Sephora? Why go to Sears when there are 7 other stores in our mall to buy a damn tie. And we don’t even have an overly big mall here!

And when it comes to clothes, there’s just nothing at Sears for me, or for anyone I know around my age for that matter. It’s almost like they stopped keeping up with current fashion somewhere around 1994. Every year I check the clothing section for their Christmas catalog just to see what they’re trying to pawn off as today’s newest trends. It always looked like a fashion spread for an article on how to dress like you’re 17 when you’re really 53, to be honest. They base their clothes on the old-time motto of “spend a bit more on something durable, it will last forever”, whereas today we’re more likely to shop thinking “I have $23 in the bank and need pants and grocery, I’m fucking screwed”.

This all leads to the biggest downfall for Sears, in my mind though. We all shop online. You go to the mall, and 99% of the stores ask for your email address when you check out. You get coupons in your email, browse the store’s website, buy crap on clearance that’s sold out at your location but available in the warehouse still. For people working multiple jobs, hopping on line and ordering your clothes for delivery is just easier a lot of the time. And most stores are all over this, pushing their website on you with more aggression than feral dog loose in a butcher’s shop. Sears never quite hit that level. I mean, they send out fucking catalogs! You can order over the phone or fill out a form to order through the mail!  They kept marketing to people the same way they marketed back when I was a kid. Instead of trying to grab the younger markets, reaching out to them, begging them to come spend money on their crap like any self-respecting business would do, they stayed with the tried-and-true method their aging consumer base was used to. Instead of reaching out to Millennials with online campaigns, social media, a Kardashian or two, or anything else a younger person may take consumer influence from, they stuck with what their now 60+ crowd was used to.

Did Millennials shop at Sears en masse? Nope. But was it the fault of the Millennials not needing their products or brick and mortar stores, or of Sears for not marketing to them? Sears got lazy. They had how many years as the Big Dog, the main store in small-town malls across North America. They turned into one of those chef’s you would see on Gordon Ramsay shows who won an award in 1984 for Best Pasta in Pasadena and decided they were the best chef EVER; they would never change a dish or menu no matter how bad their business or food was, and they scream at Ramsay for even hinting that their food is less than amazing. Sears was that asshole chef, serving 1984’s pasta to the 2017 gluten-free crowd. And this is the Millennials’ fault?

Millennials Are Killing Pt 3

Pretty much every dying industry that Millennials have been blamed for killing is just a victim of a changing economic landscape that can’t find a way to adapt. It doesn’t matter who the target market is; if something is failing, you can bet that Millennials are being blamed for it somehow. It’s not being framed as “the markets are changing: here’s the ones that can’t keep up with Millennials” though. Instead, it’s made to seem like Millennials are actively attacking industries, trying to bring about the demise of random things like napkins and beer. These articles make it seem like there is this giant Millennial conspiracy. We meet the first Thursday of every month to talk about our progress and decide what industry will be the next to crumble.

Did any of these journalists think that maybe, just maybe, things like vacations and diamonds and houses are things most Millennials just can’t afford to buy right now? Or that breakfast cereal isn’t as popular because we don’t have time to sit down to eat breakfast before running off to our first job? Maybe we’re not spending money buying beer from major brewers like Budweiser because we’re supporting more local entrepreneurs and buy craft beers from small local breweries. To save money, maybe we use towels and dish rags instead of one-use napkins. We don’t have time for golf, our jobs don’t require suits, and as renters our landlords are required to do the major repairs on our apartments and homes that would necessitate a trip to Home Hardware.

This generation is trying to do more with less: less money, less free time, fewer jobs available that pay a living wage. All the while, they’re getting shit on by people for not spending money how their parents’ generation did. Instead of industries changing to fit the market, they’re shitting all over the market for changing. Sears was just the poster child for an entire economic structure built around everyone wanting and liking what the crazy 80-year-old woman in the apartment upstairs who lives with her cat Harold wants and likes. Instead of seeing what it is Millennials want and need and either changing to fit that, or finding an unfulfilled need and creating something for that, these industries are sitting in the corner crying, “Stupid Millennials, you’re supposed to like what WE tell you to like!”

Millennials Are Kill Request

I don’t know where this rant is going, Sunshine. I’m just really getting sick of people shitting on an entire generation that is just trying to live. We’re not hurting anyone by not golfing, or not taking vacations, or not drinking Coors Light. If anything, we’re just hurting ourselves by being overworked, underpaid, and lacking basics like affordable health care that would enable us to better care for ourselves. I don’t see why we’re are constantly being shit on just because we’re not the cookie cutter image of the generations that preceded us. Why are the generations that raised us, that made us the way we are, that engineered our economy and housing market and educational system, why are they turning on us?

Utilities Included……. To A Point

I would like to know on what planet the phrase “utilities included” means “the landlord will pay the utilities for you, and your friends, and their friends, and all your families……..”. Somehow, I keep getting these roommates who see “utilities included” as some sort of invitation for a free-for-all at our place, where everyone and anyone can do their laundry or crank the AC for free.

Now, out of all the places I’ve lived with roommates (both randoms and friends), I have had the landlord come talk to me about utility usage at every single place I’ve been in. And I’ve lived in a lot of places around here. Out of all of those places, there was only ONE that was a BS complaint. At my old apartment, the windows were drafts and leaked when it rained or snowed, there was no AC, and you could feel the heat leaking out the windows from outside. But it was my nightlight in the hallway that was using up too much power and making the energy bill go nuts.

At every single other place, the landlord had totally legitimate reasons to be pissed, and my roommates and I were completely in the wrong with what was going on in our place.

Every. Single. Other. Place.

Now, just so everyone out there is on the same page, no landlord is legally obliged to include your utilities (water, electricity, gas) in your monthly rent payment. Even if you sign a lease with them that says that utilities are included in your payment, there are legal ways for them to get out of that. Like…… say you totally take advantage of the fact that you don’t have to pay out of pocket for utilities and start using ALL THE POWER POSSIBLE!!!! There are safeguards out there for landlords to protect them from situations like this, so they don’t wind up with $700 electricity bills for a 2 bedroom house that brings in $850 a month in rent.  Depending on the local laws in your area, landlords may be to change your lease (lower your rent but make you put utilities in your own name), evict you, or increase your rent to make up for their losses.

So how do you know if you’re abusing your “utilities included” agreement? Here’s what some of my roommates did:

  1. My first place in University was a house near campus with a bunch of friends and cats and ferrets. I don’t think that place ever had real, natural air flowing through it unless I opened up my bedroom window or sat up in the attic window. There was always either AC or heat blasting. And I’m not talking, “Well, it 100 degrees in the shade,  better turn on the AC to cool the place down” like a responsible person does. No, my roommate would CRANK that AC anytime she wanted. I can remember coming home from the beach on a 90-degree day. She plopped herself down on the couch to cool off after setting the AC to 50 FREAKING DEGREES!!!! And she would do this all the freaking time!  I’m surprised we didn’t burn out the AC at some point. I only lasted 2 years there, while a few of them lasted 4 in that house. By the time they moved out, the landlord was begging them to try and conserve energy, even just a little bit.
  2. I have had multiple roommates try this one, but the worst was at my last place before where I am living now. We had in-house laundry facilities. Logically, this was so the people who paid rent to live in that house could do their own laundry there. One roommate (the one who threw away all my veggies so he could fill the shared fridge with meat) decided that the laundry room was open to ANYONE. His friends would come over and do a few loads. He’d have a small party in his room and everyone would bring laundry to throw in while they drink. He would do a load of three shirts and a sock if he felt like it. I can remember waiting for days to do laundry because he’d monopolize the washer and dryer for days on end. At one point, he and two friends slept in shifts for three days so they could do laundry 24/7.  Do you have any idea how much energy laundry takes?
  3. Right now, I live with grown-ass adults who have no idea how to adult. I AM THE ADULT HERE! If I didn’t lay down the law around here (or have the landlord email everyone with new rules to follow, giving me authority over certain things), they’d just do what they want when they want. Landlord messaged me to say the energy bill was almost $90 higher than it should have been a few months ago. Now, we have ‘peak hour billing’ here, which means the energy costs vary throughout the day. It’s always been a rule here that no one does laundry before 7 pm unless it’s a weekend or holiday. Same goes for running the dishwasher (which we never use anyway). We also have to be careful with the AC.  These grown-ass adults didn’t care though. They’d do laundry all day, crank the AC so upstairs was nice and cold, and the basement was freezing. Then they’d run space heaters in the basement. Instead of using the kitchen to cook, they got spare mini-fridges and hot plates and microwaves and cooked in their rooms. I once came home a little after 1 pm to find the dishwasher running for 2 plates, 2 cups, and a frying pan.

In every single instance here, the landlord had to contact us and say, “look, either you be a little more responsible with your energy use, or I’m going to have to take the ‘utilities included’ clause out of your rental agreement”. So in a alot of these cases, it’s one person ruining things for an entire house full of people. Do you really want to be that one person who pisses off a bunch of people and causes them severe financial harm, especially when they know exactly where you live?

 

Found a little inspiration on Twitter today

Brandon Calvillo tweet

So these popped up on my Twitter feed today while I was definitely NOT spending my morning off day dreaming about Brandon Calvillo’s social media brilliance. And they got to me somehow. I screenshotted them and kept them, looking at them from time to time, trying to figure out what it was about them that made me feel so damn “argh” and “blah”. They gave me this feeling that I couldn’t just put into words. Instead, I sat there trying to reason with myself, unable to get full words out at times, replacing them with random guttural moans.

It wasn’t until I had a nice long talk with myself in the shower (which I regularly do, in case you were wondering) that it hit me: I used to be a writer until everyone decided I should be a writer.

When I first got out of high school, I wanted to write. I had been writing on and off since 8th grade. I also had spent the last few years having everyone close to me tell me every single reason why I should NOT write. Now, this was when the internet was first getting to be The Next Big Thing, and everyone seemed convinced that we wouldnèt need journalists and novelists and satirists anymore. There would be a handful of these people out there, who would create content online, and we would all read the same thing.

I know, how so very Orwellian. These are also the same people who stockpiled water before Y2K and bought things like flashlights and candles that were labeled “Y2K Compliant”.

I was pushed into things like Political Science and Comparative Politics, which I had no interest in at the time. So I quit everything, took a job at Subway and a very small writing job as an Arts and Culture columnist for a little underground magazine. It was a weird time in my life I refer to now as my Dark Days (I hung out in goth bars and was kinda sorta engaged to a drumming ninja. Seriously.), and I was a complete shit writer for that magazine. But I was writing. None of my friends or family read it, and a lot of what I got paid to write was complete drivel. At the end of the day, after coming home from work or an art show or from seeing some random local band play, I would write. Not all of it was good. Hell, most of it was pure crap (I wrote a lot of poetry while sitting in a dark candlelit corner of a dingy goth bar). But I was writing all the damn time. And as crap as my life was, my writing made me happy.

Once I moved home, though, all of this changed. Suddenly, my family wanted to see everything I was writing. I could have the barest of outlines for a short story or an article, or even just a few lines of an idea, and theyèd want to see it. They’d critique it, or laugh at it. They were always asking me, “Well who would actually read this?”

The answer to that question should have just been: Me. I should have just kept writing what I wanted to say, what I wanted to write. I wasn’t writing to make people love me, or make people want to run out and buy books a lame-ass poetry by me. I was writing because at that precise moment in time that is what I was feeling, and it needed to be said somehow.

Suddenly though, everyone was convinced that the only reason I should ever write is so people will buy my writing from me. I should be writing with images of dollar bills (or Loonies, as we have here in Canada) flashing before my eyes. I should be tailoring my every word to exactly what people want to hear from me.

And that killed it for me.

So I stopped writing for years. I’d push out the odd little piece here and there. I had one one little satirical story published in an off-campus University newspaper once when I went back to school. But I was more focused on my writing for classes at that point. I absolutely loved pouring over stacks of research papers and figures and tables. Academic writing was like some strange parallel between me writing what I wanted to write, and me having to write what people wanted to hear. As a Criminology and Psychology major, I got to write papers on criminal profiling, eyewitness testimony in wrongful convictions, moral panics, and all sorts of things I had a true interest in. If I had the courage to actually apply for the master’s program here, I would’ve been up to my eyeballs in research on events of mass violence specific to a school setting, and major media influences blamed at the time of each incident, cross-referenced with crime statistics and the release of other similar media not blamed for violent events.

Damn, I’m wet even just thinking about researching all that.

Sadly, there’s no market out there for a BA(H) who wants to write academic papers, unless they’re shelling out the cash for grad school. So, I work in retail selling the devil’s brew. And I want to write.

Problem is, it’s starting all over again. I try to jot things down on my break, and I have people reading over my shoulder. I tell friends or co-workers that I write a bit, and suddenly they know exactly what I should be writing. I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve had the same guy tell me that I NEED to write a book on some specific topic because I could make MILLIONS on it.

I don’t necessarily want the millions though. I mean, that would definitely be nice not having to worry about rent or student loan payments or debt anymore. But I don’t want to write something just because it would make me millions. You know?

I mean, I’m not an overly eloquent writer. I swear a lot in my daily life. And I have a hell of a time getting things down in writing. I mean, I can ramble for hours if you let me. I can have intense, intelligent conversations. I’m sure if I really wanted to, I could do a podcast or a vlog of my random ramblings and get a hundred posts out easily. But once I try to get that out on paper or typed out, the words just get stuck sometimes. It’s like I could have the greatest idea in the world, and be able to tell you all about it in minute detail, but once I try to actually get it down it’s the written equivalent of a 3-year-old’s crayon drawing of a giraffe.

I fell into that trap, though, where I figured I was supposed to be writing because I could make money from it. It killed my creativity and the few things I tried to get out where some of the worst pieces of crap I’ve ever written. I wasn’t writing anything for me, I was writing crap I thought other people would want me to write.

So I came back to this blog. I mean, I know why I started it, and it was all for me. I’ve watched as hundreds and hundreds of people around me have been coddled and babied and taken care of as kids and teens and pushed to the breaking point in high school to study and learn. And then one day they’re thrown out into the real world at a university or college and expected to just function normally like a full-grown adult. They don’t know how to budget, or cook, or do laundry. They’ve never had to pay their bills on time or live on next to no money. And I’ve seen so many people fail in different ways. Hell, I failed at some of this crap epically, and I went back to school in my mid-20s! A big part of me starting this blog was because I just wanted to get the info out there that people need to know in order to function sometimes. I wanted cooking tips, and how to grocery shop, because I had to teach myself all of this and I had to watch a lot of my friends fail at this. I wanted to write something personal to me, but applicable to so many people out there, not to gain fame or fortune, but to let people know that they’re not alone.

And I really needed somewhere to bitch about work and roommates, too.

These two simple tweets reminded me of why I ever wrote anything in the first place. In 8th grade, I told off my basketball coach for a bunch of things. He wouldn’t let us play our annual Valentine’s game against the boys’ team because we were not very good, and he spent more time telling us what utter pieces of crap we were than coaching us some days. So I wrote down what I wanted to say and practiced it over and over. When I had the nerve to tell him what I needed to say, he said he’d pretend he didn’t hear that. So I shoved my rehearsal paper in his hand and said, “Well, you can’t pretend you didn’t read it.” And that was one of my greatest pieces of writing ever. He sent it home with my sister to show my parents, and they weren’t even mad. My mother was impressed: I managed to explain myself at least at a 12th-grade level and tell this man off without resorting to foul language. She even said she was proud of me for it once! Writing all of that down, though, getting it out of me and down on paper, that was the greatest feeling ever.

Since then, I’ve lost that feeling. I haven’t created anything just for me in so long, aside from this blog. I’ve been mentally lost in this void, constantly being told what I SHOULD be doing and I SHOULD be writing and just giving up and falling further. My anxiety and depression have worsened in the last few years. My panic attacks are worse. I cry myself to sleep more often.

Just since reading these two tweets, I’m feeling better. I took 3 days off of work this weekend after working every single freakin day in June, so today is technically the last day of my little “vacation”. And I decided today would be a day just for me. I made a kick ass YouTube playlist of some pretty chill and awesome tunes to throw on while I write and clean. And they’re all songs I wanted to hear and I love, regardless of if they mesh well together in a list. I mean, it’s pretty hard to take “Cry Little Sister” from the Lost Boys soundtrack and pair it up with much. And I threw in all the Talk Talk and Lou Reed I could handle. I worked on a list I’ve been playing with for this blog, just things I really shouldn’t have to say to my grown-ass adult roommates but still have to. I wrote this massive shit-post of a ramble. I made a foot rest out of a laundry basket (ok I turned a laundry basket upside down, but it’s still something) and have mentally re-arranged the bedroom. Hell, I might even physically start moving things around tonight.  And I think I’ll rewatch some old Twin Peaks this week before I start watching the new series when I’m on closing shifts for a week.

Two little tweets from a man I’ve never met, but whose work I’ve come to admire, have changed my outlook completely. I feel alive and refreshed right now. I have the energy to do things, and for the first time in a very long time, I don’t feel like I completely wasted a day off.

I don’t really know how to end this. I guess sometimes we all just need to feel a little bit inspired, and sometimes we need to be reminded of why we do the things we do. Everything has become about the money these days, and it doesn’t have to be. Go do something for you, Sunshine. Go be you for you. Create, exist, touch people’s lives. And read random tweets from cute little ex-Vine stars, because you never know where you’ll get your inspiration from.

The schedule at work dropped of quite a bit. I went from my 40 hours a week before New Years, to 37 hours the week after. The following week I was down to 23 hours. And this week, I am scheduled for 5 whole hours.  I could always get called in to cover a shift, or possibly pick up a shift at another location. But for the most part, I’m SOL.

So, I thought I would make the most of this time. I have books to read, things to clean, make-up brushes to wash, laundry to do, crafts to craft……..which can only mean one thing: I wound up with the stomach flu.

So for the better part of this week, if my posts come out looking or sounding a little bit wonky, there’s good reason for it. Not only am I forced to be within 25 feet of a toilet at all times, I’m really wear and light headed from not being able to keep food in my body for very long. Also, I usually blog from my desktop computer, which I can’t exactly bring into the bathroom with me. So, I’ll be trying to get my WordPress app to work on the new iPad, or possibly on my phone.

The Amazingly Awesome Boyfriend made sure I have plenty of soup, and there’s Law & Order SVU on Netflix. My little Bowser Kitten is keeping a close eye on me, and naps next to me. Hopefully this all passes quickly. I’m really not good at just relaxing. I need to find little things to do at least to stay busy. But it’s damn near impossible to do laundry and wash the kitchen floor when you’re chained to a toilet.

Doing Some Very Grown-Up Things

So as I mentioned yesterday, I’ve been trying to do some very grown-up things. Among those things are:

  • getting through to the Amazingly Awesome Boyfriend that his debts can hold us back in getting the things we want in life.
  • taking a serious look at my own debts (which I admit, I let get way out of hand)
  • talking to someone about my debts who is in a position to help me (debt counsellor , bank loan officer), instead of just my mother and AAB
  • look at what I can do in my current job to help advance myself AND add to my resume
  • learn to use the new iPad AAB got me for Christmas for something other than Mario Run (which I refuse to pay for more than the basic starter levels right now) and Pokemon Go.

So, since the first of the month, I’ve been doing some Very Grown-Up Things. I laid out to AAB how his debt and credit score affects our future. If I’m working towards fixing my credit, and he’s not, then it makes no financial sense for us to ever become common-law or think of getting married. I know that sounds horrible, and it really does tear me up inside to say it. But I’m taking steps towards someday owning a house, or a condo, and want to at the very least get out of this house in the very near future. If I get my credit score up to a level that will get me a mortgage, or a good loan, then we can’t really do anything that would link us together financially. Doing that would mesh our credit together, and his score would affect mine. I think he’s finally starting to see that.

Also, just this week I had an appointment at my bank. Even though I am in a less-than-ideal position for a bank to lend me money, I have handled my debts well enough that there is a very good chance I may be able to get a consolidation loan to help take care of my credit card debts. I’ll have some tips on how to handle your credit like I did later. For now, I’m just focusing on getting my paperwork together to work on this loan, and get my other paperwork together to send off to the student loan people for my Repayment Assistance Plan (otherwise they just take $700 out of my account each month, which I really can never afford).

Well wouldn’t you know, right after my bank appointment I dropped into work to eat and study my new Wine Folly book before my shift, and my former manager was there to do our appraisals! It seems I’m a bit of an overachiever when it comes to the online training. He showed me how much training someone with my seniority would normally have if they only did what they had to. Then he showed me mine. It’s like twice as long! So what did I do when I got home? I signed up for more training. I’m going to do my shift leader training, some extra customer service training, a whole lot of extra product knowledge training, and some mentorship training. Then, the next time the District Manager is in our store, I want to ask him if there is any sort of mentorship programs in place with the company. Even if I have to be the mentee of the Weird BowTie Guy from our flagship store, or Cute Asshole who used to work at my store, it would totally be worth it for the opportunity.

In all of this busy-ness though, I haven’t picked up the iPad once! Hopefully once AAB’s birthday present is all set up (got a nice TV package for him), we will be chilling in the office a bit more, and I will have more of an excuse to pull it out and use it.

So there’s my current foray into the Grown-Up World I’ve failed at so far, Sunshine. I have a lot of big plans coming up, which will hopefully bring some big lessons and experiences you all can learn from (so you don’t have to screw up as bad as I did).

Why My Credit Sucks, But Not Totally

Ok so when I talk about my credit, I don’t even include the student loans I have. Thanks to laws and bills here, I don’t have to pay back anything until I make over $25,000 a year.  Sadly, I make well under that, even in gross pay right now. This also means I’m safe from huge payments, and can chip away at my loans slowly for now. this is a big plus for me right now.

A huge negative is my credit cards. You see, while I was looking for work, I still needed to live. I managed to work enough odd jobs and get enough benefits to cover my rent. But things like food, clothes for interviews (all second-hand stuff, mind you), and transportation (busses for the most part) still needed to be taken care of. Then, after I found work, I found out that my hours drop DRASTICALLY in the new year (from 40 hours a week plus Sunday overtime, to zero hours scheduled for two weeks straight). If I scrimp and save my paychecks, I can pay my rent and credit card minimums. But there’s no money left for food (unless I get called in for shifts, which look pretty likely this year!). In the past, I took a temp job at the University, but the last few months there hasn’t been anything available for me.

So, I put things on credit. It’s not like I’m out buying Gucci handbags and Fendi wallets. I’m buying on sale Mr. Noodle and some “priced to sell TODAY” veggies to throw in with them. I’m buying “Buy tonight, cook tomorrow” meats at a huge discount. Basically, I’m buying bargain groceries. This stuff adds up over time though. And there’s always a little something else you need to get. New interview pants because yours ripped or you lost some weight (from not being able to afford food). A bottle of the cheapest wine you can find to give to a friend for her birthday. A package of bus tickets you try to stretch as long as possible.  And this just adds up even more.

So, I’ve dug myself a pretty sizeable hole. Between 4 credit card and a line of credit, I’m looking at hitting the $30,000 mark this year if I don’t do something about it.

My biggest problem is the interest. I’ve read all the books, I’ve watched the shows (Gail Vaz-Oxlade you are my Queen!!!), I know that interest is a what kills you in the end. I really had no idea how bad it was until recently.

On my largest credit card balance, I owe a minimum of around $250 a month. Of that, $240 is just the interest accrued that month. That means I’m only paying off $10 of my debt each month!

So, I spoke to a financial advisor. At my job, I’m only classified as part-time, which is not a good thing when you’re looking to borrow money. Actually, that is the kiss of death for most people. But in my case, she is hopeful that we can at least get a large chunk of my debt consolidated into one payment with a lower interest rate. Why?

1. I MAKE PAYMENTS ON-TIME

The last time I was late on a payment was 8 years ago. Even then, I notified my bank that there was a problem with my paycheck and my credit card payment would be a week late. I’ve only ever missed one phone bill payment, which I paid in full the moment I I realized it and talked to my phone company about as soon as I could (my mother was in the hospital, the doctor told her she was going to die, and I was more than a little pre-occupied at the time). My point? I made my payments! And the rare time I didn’t make them on time? I made sure to apologize, explain myself, and beg for mercy. A lender doesn’t HAVE to keep lending you money. Legally (and laws vary depending on state/province, so be sure to know yours) you can miss or be late on X amount of payments before you suffer any true consequences.

I make sure to have my payments in on-time each and every month. And the credit companies take note of that.

2. I PAY MORE THAN THE MINIMUM

No, I’m not paying my balance in full, like all the experts tell me to. But if my payment is $50 for the month, I’m throwing down at least $75-$100 on there. Not only does that free up more credit if I need it later in the month, but it also shows commitment. My lending companies know that I want to pay things off, and I’m not going to just sit around doing the bare minimum to do it.

When I spoke to a financial advisor this week, on thing she emphasised was that I was paying a good $100 more a month than the minimum on my largest debt, in an effort to make it go away. This is a huge factor in determining what I CAN pay and what I WILL pay if my debts are consolidated, which affects the amount they are willing to lend me to do this.

3. I STOPPED SPENDING WHEN I DIDN’T NEED TO

Coming up closer to Christmas, my online spending increases (hello Amazon deals, you saved me TONNES for Christmas). BUT, what I spend on other credit cards decreases (I have on card dedicated to online purchases). I didn’t touch two of my cards for a month and a half! And this is huge for your credit score!

To bump up your credit score, on thing you need to do is show that you don’t need to spend your available credit. I tried to do my in-person spending (clothes, shoes, things someone needs to try on or physically test before they buy) in the warmer months. Then, when I know I’ll be spending money online in the colder months, I put away the cards in my wallet. Now, if I don’t have the cash, I don’t buy it. Yes, it sucks. Big time. I went hungry more than a few times, had to live on ramen noodles again at times. But giving those cards a break shows that I’m not dependant on them. This is huge when it comes to determining your credit score.

Basically Sunshine, I’ve messed up my finances pretty damn bad. Once, when I was really drunk, I ordered 60 pairs of false eyelashes from China. Thankfully that only set me back like $20, but that’s the kind of stupid thing we all do from time to time. I’ve tried to show, especially in the last few years, that while I’ve been entirely stupid with my credit, I get it. I need to pay it back, I want to pay it back, and I’ve put some effort into paying back.

As I said, I have multiple cards. Sometimes, just paying off one card (while keeping up payments on the others) is enough to put a huge boost in your credit score. And your credit score determines a lot. Right now, my score is low enough that i can get a mortgage, but at a horrible rate. My goal is to bring that up to a decent rate by the end of the year, and be looking to buy a home just after next Christmas.

This isn’t an exhaustive list of things you can do to help your credit score, but it’s a start. Talk to a financial advisor if you’re in a bind. Trust me, Sunshine, it helps.