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Monday, August 2, 2010

Summer Fatigue

Sometimes you're living your life, only beginning once you're in the middle of it all that you've fallen into a rut from where it is hard to climb out.
Some of you might have noticed that my blog posts aren't the same as they've always been, and to be honest, I think I agree with that assessment.

Right now, I've got a lot on my plate, and a lot of factors weighing in, making it challenging for me to churn out quality posts every day.

Not Spike
The Baby


Spike (not really his name, but a nickname he's been given because of his funky natural hair do) is quite a challenge as of late. At nearly 11 months old, he's insanely attached to me, and it's quite tiring. He has a full out meltdown when I so much as put him down on the floor when I need to use the restroom, let alone dare try to do my business without him in the room. Spike won't go to anyone, not to Dad Mike, or big brother Lee or grandma or friends or anyone really.
Forget separation anxiety- Spike is glue and if he's not physically touching me, he's screaming his head off.
During the few times that he is sleeping (no, he's not a good sleeper either, bless his heart) I try to scramble to the computer, get together a good post for my wonderful readers, and try to also get a bit of housework done while also trying to spend quality time with my nearly 3 year old.
It's very tough.
Leaving him with someone else so I can even have a slight break is not a possibility, as I feel that my first and foremost responsibility at the moment is to my son, hard as it may be. At 11 months, I feel he's too young to be purposely manipulating me. If he's acting this way, it means that he has an emotional need to be attached to me like super glue. Challenging as it is, I need to put aside everything else and give Spike my all.
Hopefully he'll grow out of it soon.
Oh, and to compound it all, Spike was sick with a tummy bug on and off for at least half of the last 2 weeks in addition to teething constantly for the past month.
So that's the Spike issue.

Evil Landlords
Then there's the landlord issue.
My biggest piece of advice for every single person under the sun, especially you readers, is to choose your associates wisely. Who you chose to have in your life plays such an enormous role, financially, emotionally, and mentally that not doing a thorough research beforehand can seal your fate in ways you'd never imagine.
Your associates and acquaintances- if they're good and honest people, you'll be blessed, but if you've become involved with crooked, slimy people, you'll have to deal with hell for months on end.
We didn't do research before signing a lease with our first apartment; we were just looking for something, anything, because we knew our wedding was in less than a month, I'd be traveling abroad for the 2 weeks before my wedding, and we needed something, anything to call a home.
Our previous landlord was such a curse, and I'm really not the type of person to hold a grudge. I try to always see the best in people, so if I say something negative like that about a person, it is not without due cause.
Fortunately, we moved to a great apartment with a great landlord 3 months ago and it is such a blessed relief. The point of my talking about my old landlord is not just to share a sorry tale, but to mention how even though we've left the place, associating with such a terrible individual is making my life difficult and stressful even as we speak.
At first, I assumed that the reason my landlord never got around to fixing anything that broke in the apartment was simply because he had no cash. I empathized, because we were also really strapped for cash. At some point, I realized that money is not the issue; my landlord had no sympathy, and was the most selfish individual I've ever met. He assumed that he was doing us a favor by allowing us to live in his home, and that we should forever pay homage to him in gratitude. After giving us a place to sleep, my landlord assumed that his work was done and he had nothing further to do as a landlord aside for cashing our rent check each month.
That meant that we either ended up taking care of things on our own, fixing things ourselves, and paying out of pocket for expenses that should never have been or responsibility. Alternatively, we just suffered because of his refusal to do anything and paid a price, both medically and emotionally.
In the four years we had our apartment, we went one entire winter sponge bathing because our landlord refused to fix any of the hot water heating elements. (There were three, he chose to fix none.) Eventually, with the help of my step dad, my husband figured out a temporary solution to fixing the gas hot water heater. When the quick fix no longer worked and again we had no hot water, the landlord was completely dismissive of it and did nothing to rectify the situation and we took matters into our own hand. We ordered a technician who needed to replace part of the element and paid 375 dollars out of our own pocket to fix it. After a great deal of pleading with our landlord, he paid us back a whopping 125 dollars, making our total out of pocket expense to fix our landlord's water heater a 250 dollars that we did not have.
We also had a serious leak from a pipe in our bathroom's ceiling, making the wall crumble and paint come off and mold grow. In addition to being horribly unaesthetic, I am sure that the mold growth contributed to both of our children being hospitalized at 4 and 5 months old respectively with breathing issues. We spent time and money buying equipment, fixing the wall, and repainting it repeatedly, because the core issue was never dealt with.
Every single time an issue came up, my landlord refused to take care of it. His attitude? "It was working fine when I left, so that must mean you broke it" even though the technicians we brought verified that all these issues were from general wear and tear and were not our fault. In 4 years, things happen, even if you do things perfectly.

Eventually, we had too much of the grief from our landlord and decided that we could no longer afford to be paying to fix our landlord's apartment. We found a cheaper, smaller place and moved, even though we had 3 months left of our contract, as we were sure we'd have no issue finding people to take over our lease. We bought paint and plaster and hole filler and spent time and energy painting the apartment and fixing it up so we could return the apartment in the exact same condition in which we got it.
Twice we found people ready to take over our lease and twice our landlord said they cannot. (Strictly for revenge, I'm sure, as he was mad at us for having the nerve to move from his apartment, and knew that if we would not get subletters, we'd be paying that money.)
For the past 3 months, we've been paying double rent, and finally our contract was up. We were jumping for joy that we'll never have to deal with this landlord again.
And then, he struck.

He went over the apartment with a magnifying glass, looking for things that were imperfect. He wanted us to pay to fix things that were already broken when we moved in, or things that just got older because 4 years have passed since he last was here. He gave us the apartment in such terrible condition and we've fixed it up tremendously, but the few things that he had broken beyond repair, he wants us to pay to replace. He has no proof that the things were in good condition when he gave them to us, simply because they were not. But his word against ours, and he's got our security check and that is his bargaining chip.
To make matters worse, he got his brother to come and paint the apartment that we'd already painted. The law here is that if you get a freshly painted apartment when you move in, you have to give it back freshly painted. We got the apartment all filthy and with the walls all scribbled up, definitely not freshly painted. Our old landlord has the nerve to have his brother paint the apartment, make up the exorbitant price of 500 dollars (we'd been quoted a price of 250 dollars to do the same job) and expect us to just pay him that money in addition to all the money he wants to fix the things that have been broken. This is all money on top of the 3 months double rent we've paid him because he refused to let us sublet it and the hundreds of dollars we've spent so far on fixing up his apartment.
Painting the apartment was never our responsibility, and even if it was, he never gave us the option to do it ourselves or find a cheaper painter.
Even talking to our landlord is impossible as he has a temper and just shouts and screams at you and doesn't let you get a word in edgewise, even when you're trying to talk respectfully and rationally. And when you don't listen to him, he brings in his mafia to threaten you. (Not a real mafia, but a large family of big, threatening, temperamental people all screaming at you and intimidating you.)

But he's got our security deposit, and hence he has bargaining power.

It comes down to this: Do we take our old landlord to small claims court? Is it worth the time and aggravation and money spent, not to mention missing work, paying for babysitters, and other side expenses of taking our landlord to court, all for the chance that we may not even win, because we're foreigners in this country and don't know how the system works.
It simply feels like our landlord assumes, like many of the other locals, that we're filthy rich Americans with gold lining our pockets. You know and I know that that is far from the truth, but our landlord is trying to suck us try of every last bit of cash that we may possibly have.

Oh stress, trying to figure out what to do.

Summer
Then, to top it all off, I am not handling the heat well this summer, despite my attempts to stay cool without AC. The place heats up, I melt and start oozing like mollasses. Moving is a chore. Doing anything is a chore. Especially since I've got Spike stuck to me like glue and stress coming out of my ears because of my old landlord.
Then to top it all off, I realize many readers are on vacation or simply have less time to read and comment because their kids are on vacation, making my blog less busy. With fewer visitors and fewer comments, its hard to get all psyched up and encouraged to put my heart and soul into posts like I used to do.

I'm considering slowing down my posting frequency from 6 or 7 days per week to maybe 4 or 5 per week. What do you think?

Anyhow, this post was a bit rambly, but I'd like to hear your thoughts and stories on a few things.

The Spike Issue:
Have you ever had an insanely attached and miserable baby for months on end? What worked for you? How did you deal with the stress and manage to get anything done without feeling like you're letting your baby down and doing a bad job as a mom? Any tips? Please?
The Landlord Issue
What's the worst issue you've had with landlords? Or have you been lucky to have a good experience with your landlord? Any suggestions on how to deal with my landlord? Would you go to small claims court, all factors considered?
The Summer Issue
Do you think I could/should slow down the rate of posts here at least till the end of August? Do you find you have less time to read or comment now that it is summer time?

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