Living in a Box

Is this an amazing picture, or what? But you know, it got me thinking about apartment living. I’ve never been one to live in apartments much. I don’t like them. You hear too much and see too much of your neighbors, secret behavior. You know too much about what the couple next store argues about. You never manage to get your laundry done before 3 in the morning because the little old lady downstairs monopolizes the two machines and/or forgets for days that she has wash in it.

To me, apartments are boxes. They somehow threaten my humanity. I feel like an insect trapped by an over-ethusiastic pre-teen who likes to torture little creatures who can’t fight back. Except with a feeble stinger or two. And oddly enough, I’ve found that bugs love to live in apartments too. I’ve rarely gone into a house and found a plethora of insects all fighting for real estate. Yet in just about every apartment I’ve been in, it seems that you must know the secret password in order to get the cockroaches to let you into the kitchen after hours. And is it the cottage cheese ceilings or do spiders just prefer the ceilings of apartments.

Then there is what landlords do to apartments. They are always painted ‘dead white’ – it’s not really white, it’s a brownish, grayish shadowy color, that apparently costs $5 for every 50 gallons. And it’s always flat paint. So any marks, dirt, stains, etc are sure to stick to it for all of eternity or until the landlord breaks down and paints more ‘dead white’ over it.

The parking spaces are made to nicely accomodate shopping carts or bicycles, but not cars, even compact cars risk ruining the paint job backing out of those babies. And for some reason, your neighbors friends feel it’s perfectly okay to park in the lot and block your car by inventing their own parking spaces.

If anyone has a party, you can pretty much assume you will get no sleep that night, that the cops won’t come until the following morning and will need to be careful to step over the party barf in the courtyard.

The last apartment I lived in was many years back. And really, as apartments go, it wasn’t a bad place. I was struck with a surge of creativity and I really set to fixing the place up. I pulled up the green indoor/outdoor carpeting in the tiny kitchen and replaced it with a sweet little blue and rosey beige tile with a flower pattern. I took off the cabinet doors to the cupboards, painted the back walls blue to match the tile and had shabby chic, open air cupboards.

I found a splashy print with lots of color and hung it over the tiny little bistro chair and table set, I found to put in the tiny dining area.

I bought matching furniture for the living room and a nice bookcase. Replaced the shower curtain and painted the bathroom, with matching towels. Oh yes, I really went for it.

When I was done I had a sweet little french cottage motif and I loved it. Two weeks later the building was bought by a developer and we were all served with a notice saying the rent was doubling the following month. We could either pay it or move out in 30 days.

I was sad to leave my little created cottage but I’ve never been in an apartment since. I think I’ll leave the boxes to the people who don’t mind being tortured.


PS: Happy birthday, Pop.

10 thoughts on “Living in a Box

  1. WC,
    I agree, apartment living is not usually the best living arangement. I much perfer a single house. I would imagine that in some places where you pay very high rent, that apartment living could be much better.

    Hi TBM,
    I don’t think the cost of the rent determines the niceness of the place out here – that may be true in other parts of the country though. Although, I will say that there are some duplexes and triplexes that are sort of nice – you almost feel as though you have a little cottage or something. But I’m with you, I prefer the single dwelling house. Much better.



  2. Renting anything is a waste . . IMHO, of course.
    But an apartment? I lived in one once. For 4 wholllleeee months! And it sucked. I swore off apartment-living after that ordeal.

    I hear you, Red. I haven’t lived in an apartment for years. It’s just not worth the aggravation or the rent.


  3. Hi WC,
    While I totally agree with your assessment (have you been reading my mind?) there are some advantages. There are no maintenance costs. If the plumbing breaks or the roof springs a leak, the landlord has to fix it, not you. I also like the part about not having a lawn to maintain πŸ˜‰
    As to the rent increase, down here they can’t do that, mostly. If you have a lease, usually a yearly arrangement, the new owner is bound by the existing contract.
    On a side note, being a science fiction fan, one novel I read had a great idea in it. The concept was that the individual bought an apartment unit, constructed to universal standards of size and utility connections, and apartment buildings rented spaces where these units could be housed and connected to services. Thus, if you wanted to move, your whole apartment could go with you, eliminating the need to pack and unpack and redecorate. you wouldn’t even need new keys. Cool!
    the Grit

    Hey Grit,
    Well, I don’t know if I’m reading your mind but we often seem to be on the same wavelength. Scary, huh? πŸ˜‰

    I love, love, love the sci-fi idea. Sort of like RV apartments. We should try that out.


  4. I live in an apartment in an old building (in Edinburgh, where renting a house costs over Β£1000 a month and buying is impossible unless you earn an absolute fortune) and I’m so with you on your assessment of the situation. If I never had to hear the alco upstairs’ bad music through the floor at 5am or close the front door of the building AGAIN when someone else leaves it open I’d be very happy indeed.

    Hi Tanya
    And welcome to my little dive. I laughed out loud about your alco neighbor..I had one of those. And I hear you on the rent and the outrageous prices of homes, I live in southern california and I’d never be able to afford a simple two bedroom ranch style house – when they are going on average for a 1/2 million bucks. Yes, you read that right. It’s ridiculous.

    PS: Tanya, I have to add, I just went over to your sight – FANTASTIC! I love your stuff. You are one talented lady.


  5. i have lived in more apts than houses. i don’t care for them all too much either and would never live in one after buying a house. i did like having no lawn maintenance though and not worrying about forgetting garbage day πŸ™‚

    Yes, the no lawn maintenance and no garbage day is nice not to have to worry about – but for me, that just isn’t enough of a perk.


  6. i like our townhouse apartment. But i feel you. We’ve lived in some very crapulent spaces and it always seemed we lived next door to partiers or fighters. Even now, our neighbors to the rght are college kids and like to get there drank on. i just let it go. When i was young i am positive that i was drunk an obnoxious, too.
    Though we have a spectacular view, no roaches but a few ants and lotsa, lotsa spiders, our bathroom is way too tiny. Still, i’d stay forever for our washer and dryer. At least until we buy a house.

    Hey Christine,
    You’re funny…’crapulent’ what a great word you made up there. I suspect things might be a little better where you are. How about when you lived out here in my neck of the woods, a good place or a sucky place?


  7. I’ve lived in many apartments in my life (but not since 1985, thank goodness), but the worst had to be the one that seemed really great and incredibly cheap when I was apartment hunting. After moving in, I discovered that not only was it under the direct approach path for the airport, but the planes flew over so low, you could clearly read the numbers on the bottom of each plane. I lived there for 2 years though. It was tough to beat that rent, and after awhile I just got used to missing whole portions of TV dialouge and telephone conversations.

    OH MY GAWD, Karen – that must have been ridiculous. I hope you didn’t lose too many glasses or plates. πŸ˜‰

    But I know what you mean about how hard it is to leave a place with really great rent. It hurts – it really does. πŸ™‚


  8. The apartment we just left in SoCal was very nice but then the Old Fire happened and there were no beautiful trees to see from our balcony anymore. That, and one of our neighbors blasted his System Of a Down album at two am while our downstairs neighbor liked to beat up his wife. Sheesh.
    All our other places down there were like border-line slum. And expensive. San Bernardino has terrible issues facing it as more and more hardcore angelino gang-bangers make it their home. i felt like a rat when we moved to Highland. When i get published, i will say that i am from Berdoo though. It made me write so…

    Yes, the fires really destroy everything out here. It’s so sad to look up and see nothing but a blackened and charred hillside where there was once beautiful trees and green hills.

    San Berdu has taken a turn for the worst. As have many of the communities that once were really pretty nice. I know what you mean about feeling like you were living in borderline slum areas – especially in a state like this where there is so much wealth and beautiful scenery – it’s quite ironic, isn’t it?

    Well now you live in a beautiful state with beautiful views – ah, the country life. You lucky girl, you.


  9. I can say I lived in apartments for about ten years or so. I don’t miss it at all.

    Yeah, it’s like dirty gym socks, once they’re out of your sight, you can forget all about them.


  10. Oh, apartment living. We bought an apartment when we were first married and lived there for 4 years. We both liked it okay *sigh* if it were not for the ugly bitch that lived above us. She knocked at my door to inform me that my husband tracked in oil on the hallway carpet– I slammed the door in her face. She would bang on the floor if I played my music too loud and my chandelier would shake. She was the President of our Association *OMG, a title too!!!* and as soon as my son could walk, she made it against the rules of our condo association to “Play on the grass or property” so I’d have to go over to my sisters HOUSE to let my kid play outside. I still drive by every day and see her car still parked there (12 years later). I think this is why I have to believe in karma “what comes around goes around” — she’s gotta a heap’n help’n coming her way!

    Hey Bella,
    Isn’t that the way? It’s always one person who sees it as their mission to ruin everybody’s peaceful existence. I’m suprised you didn’t start a campaign to get her butt removed from her position. You’re right about karma though, maybe you’ll even be around to see her collect on it. That could be very satisfying. πŸ˜‰


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