Monday, July 26, 2010
This weekend, I was somewhat alarmed to hear my downstairs neighbors say that they think our house should be condemned. In all fairness, their air conditioner has broken several times this summer and they are really frustrated with that. Also, they are not from New Orleans, and are just living in the apartment below mine until they finish renovating their much nicer house.
Regardless, I will say that my current apartment, much like every New Orleans apartment I've lived in, is fairly decrepit. It's certainly not the worst place I've lived and I don't think this place has been all that problematic (knock on wood) compared to some of my earlier apartments. I'd say my general living pattern has been that of residing in run down buildings that happen to be in nice neighborhoods. I'm hoping the apartment will refrain from falling apart for another year, and until then, reminiscing about my past apartments and their individual quirks.
My first apartment was on St. Charles and General Pershing- probably the nicest location I've lived in. This apartment introduced me to what I like to call it's "charm." First, the doorknob fell off my front door about 5 minutes prior to my Halloween party. Then the light in the living room refused to turn off, regardless of what I did with the light switch. The shelves fell off the wall in my closet. And the toilets in the entire building stopped working the Sunday before Mardi Gras. Good times....
My next apartment was in Old Metairie. I actually lived in two different apartments in the same old building surrounded by a gorgeous jungle like garden- my landlord used the rental property to satisfy his landscaping urges. The building's most notable problem was that the piping was old, and would occasionally clog up. This meant that I would be without hot water for days at a time until the clog worked itself out. (I took a lot of very quick cold showers in the summer, and in the winter, heated a big pot of water on the stove to take into the shower with me- it reminded me of Miss Honey's cottage in Matilda.) The apartment I lived in the longest was a little studio with a separate kitchen. I took all the doors off inside the apartment and hung up curtains to make more room, and I loved it, even though it was tiny, drafty, and old.
My third apartment was on Prytania St. It looked the nicest of all the places I've lived- it was inside a gorgeous house with a lovely porch, in a great neighborhood, and filled with windows- but of course, the water pressure and drainage were terrible, and all hell broke loose once my landlord decided to replace the roof. The old roof gave me no problems but over the course of 6 months after the replacement, the ceiling first fell in on my guest bedroom (ruining a lot of my furniture), and then after they repaired that- it fell in on my kitchen! (And then, after me not being able to use half my apartment for half the time I was there- my evil landlord kept my entire deposit. If you're looking for a place to rent in NOLA, email me and I'll tell you who to avoid!)
My current apartment really hasn't given me that much trouble (again, knock on wood). The heater and AC have both gone out in the past- which was unpleasant; and we've had termites. But that was a couple summers ago. (This is my 3rd summer in my current apartment, which seems really weird to me- time flies!) This year the hot water pipes messed up in my bathroom only (we have 2) so I had to take showers in the other bathroom (which has low water pressure) for a few days until it was fixed. My number one problem with my apartment is that the front stairs hold water, and eventually grow a slippery coating of algae that I have to scrub off with bleach. I usually fall down the stairs once a year when I haven't realized that the algae has grown back. The funniest quirk of my current apartment is that my doorbell doesn't ring when you press the button, but it does ring when someone rings the doorbell of the house across the street. Oddly enough, the doorbell rang at least 12 times this morning. No one was at my door and I can't really see through the tree in front of my house to see if anyone was across the street. I kind of suspect that it's gone completely nuts and I'm going to have to take it apart tonight!
Again, I wouldn't consider any of the places I've rented unlivable and I've become pretty good at chalking up the various problems in my apartments to the "New Orleans Charm." I think that's what you get when you choose to rent an apartment that's been carved into a really old house. The plus side is that you usually end up with hardwood floors, lots of windows, and some funny stories.
What's the craziest living situation you've been faced with?