The last apartment I rented was FABULOUS. It was a two-bedroom place with one inhabitant, a terrace, a living room, an all-star location not two blocks from Reforma in the Distrito Federal, tree-lined streets, kind neighbors, washer/dryer, a maid, for god’s sake, and a monthly rent of 3,500 MXP, or just shy of 300 bennies. I was allowed to have guests, I could blare music, and the landlady invited me over for dinner when I moved out.
In New York, scouring CraigsList for apartments, I wonder if I dreamed the six-month period during which I lived in that heavenly abode. I left my comfy digs for the open road (well, as open as Central American roads can be with shitty infrastructure and workers who love breaks more than paychecks), leading to a muddled stream of crappy hostels, and couches. Culture shocked upon repatriation this past March, I sought refuge in my high school bedroom, yet it had been passed on to a younger brother. I was relegated to the toy storage room, downstairs, next to my parents, where I still remain to this very sentence. Going to Puerto Rico and turning 26 made me realize that I need to get the hell out of this toy storage room and into a legit apartment.
Como dice el dicho, easier said than done.
I realized early on in the search that I have no desire to sign a year long lease. I’m mercurial; I have a slant towards splitting. I refuse to commit to anything knowing that it’s 75% probable that after this semester I bounce again. No problem, I thought, I’ll just rent a room.
I get it. You have this apartment which you consider somewhat great, or at least habitable. It’s your haven in a crazy city, the place where you can be in your bubble, listen to your jams, cook your food, and stream Netflicks. You don’t want to have some hussy with a besmirched reputation barge in a besmirch your house and thus your life. “Drama-free.” “Clean.” “Respectful.” These are some of the most common requirements for a roommate. I really, really get it. As some of you loyal floowers might know, I’m in the throes of celebrating my one year anniversary of having had THE WORST ROOMMATES EVER
so I understand the need to be Explicitly Clear when selecting a person with whom you’re going to share your living space and daily life. I. Get. It.
I’ve been perusing and actively looking for that 8×10 space in an apartment with equally-minded movers and shakers. I’m going to be working full-time, and going to school full-time. Additionally, I’ll be doing yoga, dining out, bar-hopping, clothes-shopping, and playing a little b-ball outside the school yard when it strikes my fancy. I cook odorless food maybe four times a week, my morning routine is minimal, and I’m not a shower freak. I will essentially never be home. Let me add that on hostelworld.com, I’m listed as having made 42 bookings. Add to that the hostels where I didn’t have a reservation, and we’re saying I’ve stayed in more or less 50 shared dorms. That means I have a shit ton of experience respecting space, fitting into small quarters, and being around people I don’t know in a mutually pleasant manner. Plus, I’m hilarious.
In other words, I’m the perfect roommate. But people are out of fucking control. Let’s analyze.
1) Exhibit A: Absurd Financial Requests
“We are 24 and 23 year old females, one works full time while the other is a full time law student. As three bedrooms give you more for your money we are looking for a third roommate to search with us in either of these neighborhoods. You should be able to pay around $1,300/mth. You must be gainfully employed, in graduate school or be able to pay all twelve months upfront. NO EXCEPTIONS.”
WHAT? You want me to fork over $15,600? If I had that amount of money on hand to dole out to strangers I’d take the first plane to Bombay and never return.
“The utilities are about $140 a month per person (which includes extremely high-speed internet, as well as Electric and Gas). We can adjust this up or down based on our consumption.”
PARDON? That better be 12G Mach Force Internet that gets the ideas out of your head before you even type them, because in all the years I’ve had internet and a ConEd bill it has never been $280 dollars. Additionally, how does this guy plan on measuring this sliding scale usage of utilities? Are we going to hire someone (for an extra fifty dollars) to study the IP addresses and break down the MBs used per person? Is there a clock-in card at the front door so he knows how much wattage is being emitted from the light bulbs during your home hours?
2) Exhibit B: Cockblockers
“We want to make it explicitly clear that the apartment has incredibly thin walls, and limited privacy. Therefore, overnight guests (boys!) aren’t allowed.”
This is just one of the eight billion ads telling you that you are never allowed to have anyone over, ever, not even for a little while, not even the tip. How can you tell people who are in the throes of their existence that they can’t get into the throes of passion? You’re renting a fucking room, not a lifestyle. Not to mention the fact that saying “(boys!)” puts you in the box of a closed-minded douche who assumes all girls like boys. I happen to, love them, actually, but how do they assume that? Or if I choose to swing Sapphic, will that be okay?
This is my pet peeve, seriously. Why are there never any postings that say: “We know you’re a 23 to 35 year old living your life and are thus bound to meet people now and again with whom you want to have sexy time. Don’t scream like you’re in a porn, wrap your condoms up in toilet paper, and we should be fine.”
(Addendum: People always say “no one who brings the bar home at night.” Has anyone every brought the entire bar home? That’s not to say I’ve never tried, but it rarely if ever comes to fruition. Just wondering how that one phrase got into our vernacular; also would love to party with the person who did it.)
3) Exhibit C: Weird About Cleaning
“I’m a complete neat freak when it comes to my home. It should be a place of Zen after a long day’s work.”
“CLEANLINESS Important (Please do not consider yourself if you do not love cleanliness).”
“If you have preferences or really love cleaning, we can talk about that, but otherwise…”
“If you leave dishes in the sink for more than a day i will throw them in the garbage.”
Primeramente, were I to have a dollar for every self-described “zen” individual searching for a roommate I could live in the Palace Hotel for a year, paying daily in cash. What I want to do is bring a ton of sand, smooth stones, and those tiny pattern-making rakes, and really turn these apartments into bastions of zendom. Super clean, obvi. And why are we now requiring that people love cleaning?? I guess with Facebook and all, a mere “like” is commonplace; without true love for
cleanliness CLEANLINESS, you’re still homeless.
4) Exhibit D: Random Douchebaggery
“15 min in the shower, there is a large dresser/mirror thing directly outside the bathroom door for hair/makeup/etc.”
Water will turn off after 15 minutes, at which point it will be replaced with burning acid and you will die for being vain and taking too long in the shower.
“To simplify these list just be cool and not a pain in the a$$
Also im a Taurus, April 21 – May 20
Most compatible with….: Virgo, Capricorn
Can be good with……….: Gemini, Cancer, Pisces, Aries, Taurus
A 50-50 chance with……: Libra, Sagittarius
Doubtful with……………..: Aquarius, Leo, Scorpio”
5) Exhibit E: This Email
“Hi Lily!!!! Thank you so much for coming to see the apartment. You would be great here. We have narrowed the list of potential roommates to you and one other, but it’s very tough to decide.
How many meals a week do you expect to cook at home?
What hours to you expect to be home?
What’s your morning schedule like, in terms of bathroom time, etc?
Your (sic) awesome. thank you so much and just reply all. Thanks!!!!”
Now, I is pretty awesome. But I’s pretty crazy, too. Some weeks I be eating out mad times, and others I cooking up a storm. Certain Thursdays I feel like taking a stroll in the late afternoon in the light fall rain, and occasionally, on Mondays, I want to stand in the shower for 37 minutes. I cannot tell you, for example, whether or not I’m going to eat linguini with clams that are on the far side of the expiration date at family meal one Saturday, thus begetting a really long stint on the toilet Sunday. I refuse to justify this email with a response.
6) Exhibit F: This Email
Which campus of the city college are you going?”
To which I responded, “I’ll be at City College, on 137th and 7th in Harlem.”
To which she responded: “This particular room is not good for you in that case. You should have 1 train…”
I should have 1 train. I should also have an easier time finding a goddamn normal place to live. I should not have people telling me which form of transport I need to get to school. She should check her grammar, as should most people. Maybe I bike! Maybe I’m autistic and very particular about trains.
7) Exhibit G: Perverts
“i’ll reduce the rent if you are a cool as hell female who wants to work part time as an actress for my short mature theme films (non nude).”
“$150 Negotiable room for rent in a nice house: I’m a divorced male looking for a unique living situation! I am offering reduced rent for an attractive, open minded and friendly female. You will have your own room, and acccess to the rest of the house (kitchen, living room, family room, etc.) No sex implied! But please be mindful that I’m not opposed to it!
We all know that perverts love the CL. We all know that girls can be dumb. But really, in this apartment market, how can you judge someone who says yes to this? You look at shoeboxes that cost more than my entire college education, you spend hours sifting through postings from hostile, militant individuals with poor punctuation, and you just say, fuck it. I’ll be the girl who lives in a sick-ass pad but isn’t allowed to wear pants in the home. Fine. But the gall of some people! Not only do you have to debase yourself to live in the city of your dreams, not only is this the perviest of perversions, but THEY STILL WANT MONEY.
This is my howl. My name is Lily, and I am a 26 year old female. I’m a native New Yorker, Manhattan-born, Westchester-raised. I am 100% human, and need to be able to do 100% of the human things in the place I live. This includes bathing for a non-timed amount of time, being able to go to the bathroom when nature calls, having sex when I meet a person who I find attractive and intelligent, and eating food. With regards to the food, I might need to prepare it myself sometimes. I work and go to school, and I will take whatever MTA service I want to get there. But none of this matters, because I’m not looking for a roommate.
But do let me know if you hear of a good studio opening up.