The Fabled ‘Tale of the Corn’, or “How I Became Allergic to my Own Damn Kitchen”.

I think sometimes when I tell this story, people don’t believe me unless they knew this particular roommate. The state of her kitchen became a legend among frat boys in our area. It was a punishment to be forced to come over to her place and clean her kitchen for her. More than one frat pledge hurled and dry-heaved his way his way through her dishes, just to come across forgotten pots and pans from what looked to be Christmas dinner, 1976. There are some who cannot remember a time when her kitchen wasn’t covered in dishes. I am not one of those people, though. I can remember scrubbing our kitchen when we lived together, having an empty sink and a drawer full of squeaky clean cutlery. In my mind, the kitchen was just a minor problem that we could handle together.

Until the corn pot.

She had never been one to do dishes in the first place. For many years, she had a deal with her fiance where he would do dishes if she would do all their laundry. When he left, she stepped up from time to time, cleaning up after herself. This would usually only be after at least a week of dishes piling up in the sink, crusted food rotting on their pretty floral pattern. I bought myself a set of blue plastic dishes, trying to make sure I always had something to throw my pizza on while I watched tv. Over time, even those dishes somehow wound up in her growing sink mound.

Usually, I would get sick of the mess, throw a fit, and the two of us would clean it up together. If I wasn’t around, though, this didn’t get done. I could scrub the kitchen down completely on a Friday afternoon, go to my parents’ place for the weekend, and come home to a pile of dishes I would later have to help clean.

And that is how the corn incident started.

On a Thursday night, she decided to make herself a big enough meal to have leftovers for a day or two, while I decided to go stay with my parents’ and help them move furniture. Before leaving, I hugged her cats goodbye and watched her browning meat at the stove. I didn’t come home until Monday afternoon.

It seems that part of her dinner Thursday night was a rather large pot of frozen corn. I know this because on Monday night, it was still sitting half-full on the stove. The butter in it had hardened and the pot’s contents were now one giant yellow rock. I asked her if she would be getting rid of that soon, and she said she was just about to.

On Wednesday night, I tried to find a clean plate for my pizza. While moving dirty dishes away from the cupboards, I found the corn pot. It was still full, and starting to look a little fuzzy. I mentioned to her that her food was starting to grown life forms, and she laughed it off.

By Friday night, I was feeling a little off while trying to make dinner. My eyes were burning, my throat felt dry, and I was getting dizzy at the stove. I moved things aside to get to the window, and found the pot. The corn was starting resemble a small cat now, black and fuzzy. The mould on it was growing its own film of mould.

Oh, did I mention that I’m allergic to mould?

The roommate swore again and again that she would take care of it. Yet day after day, that mouldy sat on the stove. I began to have nightmares about what was going on in that pot. Were there tiny little organisms in there, slowly evolving? Were they building tiny little roads and houses? Would they stage an uprising and come to kill me in my sleep?

By the following weekend, I had had enough.  The pot was still sitting there, less corn than fuzzy cat-like blob of fuzz. I stormed into the kitchen, grabbed the pot by the handles, and decided right then and there that I was going to get rid of whatever was living in there.

And that’s when it attacked.

A black mushroom cloud of spores exploded from the pot, enveloping my entire head. I gagged and wheezed, throwing the pot back on the stove and running for the nearest bathroom. Black fuzzy chunks flowed trough my vomit, as tears tried to wash the black from my eyes. And the roommate? She sat in the living-room, watching TV and occasionally calling out, “are you alright?”

For days after, I was a mess. My eyes both watered and were painfully dry. I wheezed after walking the 9 feet to the bathroom from my bedroom. I was cranky and tired, but couldn’t fall asleep with all the itching and coughing. And that damn pot still sat there.

To be safe, I stayed out of the kitchen. When the pot exploded, it essentially made me allergic to the entire damn room. The room where my food was, where I could eat up leftover pizza, where the glasses for my beer were. Allergic! For days, I pleaded with the roommate to clean out the pot. She had midterms, and papers, and studying, and TV, and god knows what else keeping her from that kitchen, though. Unable to even enter the room, I was forced to subside on pizza and McDonald’s; not a huge change from before, but still a huge annoyance.

Finally after close to three weeks of me asking, she cleaned it. While I was on campus, she threw away the growing fuzz-ball and scrubbed out that pot. She scrubbed down the dirty dishes that had been accumulating, wiped down the counters, and even cleaned the stove-top.  For a whole 17 hours, I had a clean kitchen.

Of course, then she made food again.

It was corn.

Read Your Damn Lease!

(Sorry for the long pause in posts. Saved everything to draft instead of setting it up to post at a later date. My bad!)

So, I was going to post something I have queued about making sure y your syllabus/course outline/assignment rubric/guidelines.  This is somewhat along those lines, but dealing with renters instead.

At the moment, our landlord is half way across the coutnry, doing his Army Reservist training. In his absence, myself and another roommate have been doing some of the things he usually would do (bills, repairs, cleaning, winterization). The two of us have been here for a few years each, so we don’t mind helping out. The new guys in the basement, however, just moved in the beginning of September. They’ve never dealt with the landlord leaving like this. I really don’t think they can handle it, to be perfectly honest.

Last month, when rent was due on the 1st of the month, I was shuttling myself between home, work, and the hospice to stay with my grandma in her last days. Those two were wondering why I wasn’t dropping everything to take their rent and deposit it for them. Now, I had agreed that I would take their rent money from them and deposit it IF they had some sort of problem with their chosen method of rent payment. Afterwards, I told them to get things straightened out for this month.

Another month has passed, and those two are yet again wondering why I haven’t dropped everything to take care of them. When one went out partying for 2 whole days for Halloween and missed the small bit of time I was home to collect rent, he had the audacity to get mad at me! Because he didn’t sit down with our landlord and go over things step-by-step (rent payment, how to get a receipt, how to contact the landlord), it is now somehow MY problem. One of them even went so far as to bring his father into this, saying he was going to have his father “deal with me”.

And this is where reading your damn lease comes into play.

You see, the lease tells you EVERYTHING you need to know (or should, legally). It’s like the syllabus you get the first day of classes: it tells you everything that is expected, everything that is allowed, how to contact important people, and when everything comes to an end. On top of that, this is a legally binding document. Basically, you entered into a contract with your landlord when you signed this.

Yes, that’s right: it’s legally binding.So, you should probably know what’s in there.  In the past, I’ve had leases that specified types of furniture that were not allowed (usually waterbeds, extra appliances, and space heaters), certain types of combustibles not allowed (fireworks, propane tanks), and animal regulations (some places require a pet deposit, some won’t allow certain animals, and one place let my friend have a pig as long as it didn’t spook the carrier pigeons next door). Your lease can also also have clauses in it regarding noise, subletting, overnight guests, and otehr things you may not think about when signing your lease.

So, back to my roommates: as it turns out, our lease is VERY clear about how rent is to be paid. On the very first page, the landlord gives multiple options for payment, knowing that there will not always be a landlord on-site on the 1st of the month. The lease states the house bank account number and which bank to make deposits at (only a few blocks from here); it has an option to set up internet banking options (of which there are multiple); and there is even an option for submitting multiple post-dated cheques which can be deposited into the bank. Nowhere in the lease is there the option to harass a fellow tenant and attempt to force her to take your money and deposit it for you.

I will be making new (highlighted) photocopies of each of their leases for them, showing them their payment options.  I also gladly welcome a phone call from the one roommate’s father. He thinks that, by having his father call me, I will somehow be scared into takin gtheir money and not giving them any greif over this. Instead, I will proudly read from the lease his son signed, and invite him to teach his son to maybe read his damn lease before he complains.

I Wasn’t Prepared for My Preparedness Post………… Oooops!

Ironically, I was going to prepare a post for today about how you should always be prepared for anything. I was going to go into the basics of planning ahead, because life happens all around us.

Well, then life happened to me.

I’m writing this post on a borrowed iPad while sitting next to my grandma’s bed in the hospice. I didn’t take my own advice and plan ahead for this. While I did have a few weeks of posts scheduled before this, I didn’t have anything for this week.

Learn from my error.

Once we’re a little more settled here, I will be preparing for emergencies like this. How? I could do things like save drafts of posts that can be posted at any time during the year. This could be anything from horror stories from roommate experiences past, to tips for studying and writing papers. I could also keep notes with me for simple posts that can be done of hone go. And, of course, I could always make sure I have a few weeks of posts scheduled ahead of time to make sure things like this don’t happen again.

So keep checking in for more posts. Soon I will be talking more about organizing, scheduling, and planning. I am researching a series on effective study and writing habits. Also, I hope to start up my Roommate Horrors series. Stay tuned for the Tale of Too Much Protein, Where is my Freakin Cheese, and Why I Was Allergic to My Own Kitchen. These stories are all based either on my own personal experiences in university, or stories from my friends’ time at school.

So check back here in the coming weeks for a little more of the usual, and a little less of this “typing from a hospice recliner”.