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The stupid, it burns

*bangs head on desk*

So... the water to my house got shut off this morning, on what may well turn out to be one of the hottest days of the year. Have I mentioned the landlord is an idiot?

I share a two-bedroom apartment with my ex-husband on the first floor of a duplex in an inner-ring Cleveland suburb. (Gotta love that economic "recovery".) The rent is cheap, but the place isn't even worth the amount we're charged. The landlord owns some unknown number of houses in this 'burb, and when something breaks, either takes his sweet time fixing it or argues that it isn't really broken -- like the time he tried to convince us that it was perfectly normal for a refrigerator to go into auto-defrost mode and pump warm air rather than cold into its interior for 24 hours straight and that if this was a problem perhaps we just shouldn't buy perishable groceries.

The house has a single water meter, serving the piping that feeds both rental units. This is SOP around here, and the vast majority of landlords include water as part of the rent.

Not this guy. He's paranoid that tenants are going to abuse the water if they're not paying for it themselves. "They'll have all their relatives over to do laundry or take showers and I'll be paying for it, or they'll leave the water running all the time and I'll get stuck with the bill," he says. (I don't even want to know what kind of people do that, but it isn't us. Hell, I don't even *have* more than a handful of relatives left to speak of, and none of them live in this state.)

So instead he charges what he considers a lower rent, eschews leases in favor of verbal month-to-month rental agreements and then expects his tenants to split the water bill, with each unit paying a portion depending on how many people actually live there. The bill, however, goes to his father's home in the next 'burb over, and he never once has shown it to us, mentioned it to us, asked for $!amount toward it or anything, in the 10+ months we've lived here. We asked once or twice, and he said not to worry about it just then, as he would take care of it and get back to us if it was high enough to warrant doing so. I'm not even going to pretend to understand that, but my ex is in charge of this stuff, since technically it's his apartment.

As it turns out, the landlord hadn't paid the water bill in five months. I learned this when, this morning, I stepped out front to find a water department truck parked at the curb, and a guy shutting off the valve in the treelawn in front of the house. He was very apologetic and gave me a number to call. When I did, the water department informed me how far in arrears the bill was, and how much would have to be paid to get the water turned back on.

I called the landlord, who at first claimed to have no knowledge of why our water should've been shut off. I recounted to him my conversation with the water department, and cited the fact that by law HE is responsible for the bill since the account is in his name as homeowner and the rental units do not have their own meters. He said, "You guys need to be paying that bill."

"How," I asked, keeping my voice as calm as possible, "are we supposed to do that when we never even see the bill? The city says they send it to an address in [redacted]."

"Oh, yeah, well I have that go to my dad's place."

"Not our problem."

He agreed to get the bill caught up and have our water turned back on today [update: which as of this writing it has been]. I'm actually glad I was off today and could be here and on top of the issue, because otherwise tonight would've been very annoying... but dear ghods, what is up with this guy? And now he wants to put the water bill in my ex's name -- for the WHOLE house -- and let us wrangle splitting it with the neighbor upstairs, whom we almost never see because she is out of town about 75% of the time. (And when she is home, it frequently sounds like she's making amateur porn up there. Just the thing you want to knock on the door during... but that's a whole separate issue.)

So, um, no.

Is it any wonder I want to get out of this place, this town and this whole area?

Well, that was an adventure I could've done without. Ate a handful of trail mix late this afternoon; bit down on a peanut and sheared off part of a molar. It didn't hurt, but it made the most alarming "crunch". Went immediately to the dentist, and was told the nerve is exposed but apparently dead, and that I will need a root canal, post, and crown.

I'll be having that done on Monday. Because, y'know, life wasn't already complicated enough.

Sixteen Days Of Rain...

As I write this, we are having yet another thunderstorm in Cleveland. It has rained every day for the past 16 days, something that hasn't happened since 1900. Rivers and creeks are flooding their banks, and we now have -- oh joy -- tornado warnings across the northern strip of Ohio along the Lake Erie coast.

I'm worried about the home belonging to one of my best friends, David. Its roof was damaged when Hurricane Sandy (well, technically they were calling it a "superstorm" by then but still) blew through here last October. A tree rooted on the vacant lot next door and thus belonging to the city of Cleveland was uprooted by high winds, crashing onto his roof. It took the city until late January to even remove the tree, and they still haven't done a damn thing about the roof. They just keep telling him they'll get back to him.
The tree on David"s roof

David didn't have homeowner's insurance because with his work hours having been reduced in the wake of recent economic upheavals he didn't have the money for the premium. So he's had to keep waiting for the city, which keeps dragging its feet, and in the meantime whenever it rains, water gets down inside the house walls and above the attic ceiling. The initial estimates he got from local roofers came in around the $7,000 mark, but of course because the upper portion of the interior wall structure is open to the elements and we've had so much rain, it's almost a certainty that there is additional, invisible damage. If this goes on much longer, I'm afraid problems could develop with mold and rot, to the extent that he could even lose the house.David"s roof after the tree damaged it

This wasn't David's first experience with hurricane damage. He was living in Biloxi, MS when Katrina ravaged the Gulf Coast, and lost that house as a result. He spent the last of his savings last summer to have his roof redone -- something it had badly needed -- so he’s had no extra cash on hand to have the storm damage repaired. To make matters worse, he was seriously injured on the job several weeks ago, and while worker’s comp is paying his medical bills and covering some basic necessities, he won’t be able to go back to work until he is fully healed (his job is quite physical). He’d been applying and interviewing for a second job until he got hurt, so now rather than getting ahead, he’s falling even further behind.

I've put together a fund to try to get his roof repaired, since at this point neither of us is willing to bet that the city is going to get around to doing anything about it between now and whenever Hades gets an NHL expansion team.

Additionally, I'm having problems of my own (for those of you who remember my Jeep saga, it still isn't over), so if enough comes in I may be able to fix and keep my vehicle.

Sending Up A Flare...

Okay, I'm going to bring this to the LJ hive-mind, because I can't think where else to bring it. I don't know if anyone here will have any ideas for me, or anything else for that matter, but I need to tell my story on the off-chance someone does.

For those who don't know, my marriage ended in the spring of 2011, not long after my father entered a nursing home once his mental and physical needs outstripped the ability to meet them at home. I'd taken four years off from the workforce to care for him, with my then-husband's blessing and help. However, the stress had proven a bit much, and we'd realized that our differing styles of dealing with it made us Not A Good Match. We had no kids, and the split was an amicable and mutual decision. My ex-husband and I remain good friends. However, over is over, and we've been trying to move ahead with our individual lives.
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I'm tired. I'm desperate. I'm depressed. And I'm asking for help, be that prayer, ideas or anything else. Frankly, there's a side of me that thinks if my ex's car's crappy steering went out on me during my commute and sent me into a fatal wreck, at least I'd have the relief of No Longer Having To Try… and that kind of thinking is so far out of character for me that it isn’t even funny.


This is ridiculous

I recently watched a story on my local newscast addressing the dangers of trampolines. That’s right – trampolines, long the joy of children everywhere, are now considered too dangerous to be used by today’s youth. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics has recommended that kids and teens should never use trampolines at home or even in routine gym classes.

Now wait just a minute. Isn’t this the same American Academy of Pediatrics that’s been so very vocal about the epidemic of childhood obesity? Haven’t they been advocating that children and teens put down the video game controller, turn off the TV, log off the Internet and go outside for some vigorous physical activity?

Let’s face it: ALL physical activity carries risks. And childhood has never been without them anyway. Simply being born is itself dangerous, after all. And if you’re over thirty-five or forty, chances are you remember doing all sorts of things as a kid that didn’t even raise eyebrows back then, but would be considered unacceptable risks in today’s overprotective world. Things like riding bikes without a helmet, climbing trees, jumping off a rope swing into a swimming hole or pond (a favorite of my own rural childhood), rollerskating on the sidewalk, playing dodgeball (in gym class, no less, and without any sort of safety equipment) and yes, even jumping on trampolines.

I remember trampolines fondly. My next-door neighbors had one in their backyard. It wasn’t one of those slick, store-bought jobs with padded edges and safety nets, either. This was a crude, homemade unit constructed by digging a shallow oval pit, surrounding it with a foot-high wooden enclosure topped by a foot-wide metal beam running all round its circumference, painting the whole thing white and then installing thick metal springs all the way around with a trampoline bed made of green, rubberized canvas. We simply stepped up onto the edge and then jumped onto the canvas, ready to bounce to our hearts’ content. This trampoline was large enough to accommodate two teenagers or three younger kids. One of our favorite games was the “seat-drop” contest, in which two of us would get onto the trampoline together and do seat-drops with no bounce between – simply feet-seat-feet-seat – for as long as we could. The first one to tire or miss a beat lost the contest. We also practiced forward and backward flips (only one allowed on the “tramp” at a time for those) and other tricks. A warm summer day would find up to a dozen or more kids of all ages in my neighbors’ backyard, all taking turns on the trampoline. Standing on the grass in our bare feet, without a mat in sight. It was glorious!

Now, I was definitely not the most athletic kid around. In fact, I was probably one of the clumsiest. Always picked last for teams, I abhorred gym class and was absolutely no good at sports. Except for one thing: that particular gym unit each year where we got to use gymnastics equipment, and even then, I found the uneven bars, the pommel horse and the vaulting box daunting. But when it came to the trampoline – that big white elastic square with padding all around and standing chest-high to many of us – I was finally in my element. Most of my classmates did not have access to a trampoline outside of these two or three short weeks, and had to work to master even the most basic of moves. But I could execute even double flips with an ease born of long practice, and I eagerly looked forward each year to the one time in gym class when I morphed, however briefly, from the klutziest student to one of the most graceful. Even my gym teacher was stumped by my transformation, until one year I finally explained my secret to her.

Of course, these days, people are so worried about protecting children from every childhood bump and scrape that it’s a wonder we don’t just pack them in Styrofoam and feed them strained peas until they’re eighteen. Good grief, here we are, worried about plus-size children who would rather spend all summer in the living room with the latest games for Playstation than take a walk around the block, and we’re complaining about the dangers of trampolines, skateboards, bicycles, rollerblades and swimming pools. Does anyone see the irony here?

In all the years my neighbors had their trampoline, I think there were only two injuries – a sprained ankle suffered when one boy stepped off onto the ground wrong and twisted his foot, and a swollen big toe on yours truly when I stepped off the trampoline and onto a yellowjacket that was sunning itself on the edge. Either of the above could have happened as a result of many other activities. Meanwhile, my friends and I were outdoors and engaging in healthy physical activity rather than inside eating chips and playing video games. Don’t get me wrong; I’m not advocating against things like bike helmets and protective gear for rollerblading and skateboarding, nor do I believe that parents should leave their kids unsupervised while engaging in certain activities. It’s a good idea to have someone keep an eye on them when they’re on a trampoline in the same way that it’s a good idea to have someone watching out for them while they’re in a swimming pool. But I don’t think it’s necessary to forbid kids to engage in an activity at all just because it’s possible that they could get hurt doing it. Otherwise, they shouldn’t even be allowed to get out of bed in the morning.

Letter to my 20-year-old self

This was inspired by a question in a forum where I participate regularly. A poster asked, "What would you tell your 20-year-old self if you had the opportunity to speak to them or write them a letter?" Here is my response:

Dear 20-year-old-Self:

You know that dude you're engaged to? The one you think you're so in love with? Well, much as it pains me to tell you this, Mom and Dad are right, although possibly not for the reasons they think they are. (Especially not Mom.) But you're not going to marry him, and if you're smart you'll dump him NOW, before the really abusive stuff starts. Trust me on this; you'll thank me later.

In fact, DON'T ever stay in ANY relationship where you don't feel respected. You're worthy of respect, and deep down you know it. Give this more than lip service; go out and live your life that way.

While I have your attention, you really need to reopen the discussion about college with the 'rents. If you offer to dump Le Dude in exchange for them finally sending you away to that university you really want to go to, there's a good chance they'll take you up on it. But you need to strike while the iron is hot, because if you wait until they've settled in Ohio (oh, yeah, forgot you didn't know that was coming either -- well, it is) they're not going to be happy about your staying in New York. So jump on it now, while they're still in a state of flux themselves. You can sell them on the idea that even if they don't know where they're going, at least you may as well have some kind of stability in the offing. At this point, I think they're a lot less enamored of the idea of community college than they were when you graduated from high school, especially given that's where you met Le Dude. He isn't much use to you and you're on the verge of figuring that out -- but he's the best bargaining chip you have right now. Take the opportunity.

Believe me, it'll beat the hell out of being the only employed person in the family next year. Yeah, you'll feel all responsible when you're the one bringing home the proverbial bacon while simultaneously navigating part-time community college, but what you don't know right now is that this is completely unnecessary... even though nobody's going to tell you that until you're almost 30, and then you're going to be really pissed off that you wasted all that effort when you were convinced your parents didn't have squat. Ask the difficult questions. Don't be a martyr.

By the way, don't pick Linguistics as your major. I know academia sounds like a fascinating career path, but it's going to tank in about 20 years as a means of making a reliable living. Nobody's more disturbed by that prospect than I am, but it's best you know this now. You know those computer science courses you've been contemplating? Sign up for them earlier rather than later, because that's where the money and the fun will be, at least for a while. There's going to be this neat thing called the Internet in a few years, and electronic media will become very popular. You'll definitely want to be in a position to ride that train, so think smart. When you first hear the phrase "web design", jump on board.

Have a firm plan for what you want to do with your life if you don't have kids, because there's a distinct possibility that you won't. And that's okay. Trust me on this, too.

Finish that novel you just started writing. Finish the one you started before that and have had sitting in a drawer. Find a literary agent. Get serious about it. Write more after that. (Don't worry; you will. But you should get serious about it sooner.)

Don't buy the blue car.

Tequila belongs in the bottle. You're allergic; don't find this out the hard way. You're better off sticking to beer or wine.

You're not cut out for skiing, so hang it up now while you still have both ACLs.

Don't take a long hiatus from theatre. It's easier to knock the rust off when you haven't accumulated a lot of it. We got lucky and accomplished that, but it could've been so much easier.

Take every extra hour of work you can get for a while, and buy that guitar. It isn't as frivolous an expense as some might tell you.

Practice. Every. Day.

Be nice to Mom. She won't be here a whole lot longer.

Put up with Dad as best you can, but don't let him intimidate you. He means well; he's just profoundly clueless about some things. Like human relationships. With adult children, or anyone else. He'll get better at it eventually... like in about 20 years. By then he won't have a choice.

Above all, be nice to yourself. At the end of the day, if you respect yourself, it's a lot easier for others to respect you. The same goes for love.

Be well.


I'm still here...

...freezing my butt off, waiting for winter to end, and writing. A few friends who hang out here on LJ have asked to read the fanfic story I'm working on, and rather than play around with e-mail and such to all of them, I'm just going to put a link here to my website. So if you're one of those who have asked, or if you're just curious, feel free to check it out. And if you haven't and you don't care, feel free to ignore this post...

Link to my story website's main page, with a little bit of info about what I'm doing with it
Link directly to the story itself
I've also been posting it here on Fanfiction.net if you prefer their format

Carry on...


Your results:
You are Daniel Jackson
Daniel Jackson
Samantha Carter
Jack O'Neill
Dr. Frasier
General Hammond
A Goa'uld
You are sensitive to the needs of
others and are a good communicator.
You always stand up for the little guy.

Click here to take the Stargate SG-1 Personality Quiz

I'd love to have his education, I can tell you that much!


Food for thought

John Scalzi hits it out of the park: Things I Don't Have To Think About Today

Go. Read. Share with others.

Pimping my husband....'s writing

Okay. Many of you know that I'm a Pittsburgh Steelers fan, and so is my husband. However, what you may not know is that he's also a pretty decent sports blogger (when he finds the time). He has posted an opinion piece on Art Modell's moving the Browns to Baltimore in 1995, and would love to get feedback from Browns fans (and anyone else who has an opinion to share).

What If the Browns Were Forced to Stay in 1995?

Please go read, and chime in!

ETA: Link has been fixed.


book freak
Summer, ska the Lady Ana an Locha
My fanfic site

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