In Which We Accidentally Prove My Father Right

Over the summer, while I was going through the wonders and delights of my first trimester, the temperature shot up to the high 90’s and low 100’s. Our apartment does not have air conditioning. My dad, concerned, asked what we were going to do about it. “Set up a fan,” we said. “Sleep in our underwear, and spray cold water on ourselves before bed.”

“What about moving?”

“Not in the budget,” we said.

I lay on the couch fighting morning sickness while Dad relayed information to Mom. “They’re probably going to rent month-to-month until they can find another apartment with air conditioning.” That’s not what I said at all, I thought. What I said probably just came out as moaning. It’s hard to win an argument while you’re trying not to throw up.

So we set up a fan and slept in our underwear and soaked our clothes and managed to survive the summer. It was hot, but we did it. And now it’s cooling down, and we’re very happy about it, and we’re looking around, saying, “Hmm. We need to make room for a baby.”

A few days ago, some friends told us they were selling their contract for a two-bedroom apartment. Hmm. Two bedrooms would be nice. We went to take a look at it. This is much bigger than our current apartment, we thought. This would be nice. We took a look at our budget. We can afford this. And, since our landlord still hasn’t gotten around to writing out a year-long contract for us, we’ve been renting month-to-month. Almost in spite of our best efforts, we have proven my father’s words correct.

But hey – we’re moving! As of next month, we’ll be living about a mile east, and with significantly more space. Hooray! ♦

And the Floods Came Up…

This morning was interesting.

Ethan’s alarm went off at 5am, but happily, Ethan had the day off today, and he just turned the alarm off. Unhappily, I felt like a donkey had kicked me in the small of the back. I have no idea why, but apparently pregnancy means you should not sleep on your back. I had fallen asleep that way and slept most of the night with steadily growing back pain. It took me an enormous effort to get onto my side and curl up, and the pain in my back eventually died down enough for me to fall asleep again.

Several hours later, Ethan got up because he heard knocking at the door. Nobody was there anymore, but after a few minutes, he tried to turn on the water and found we had zero water pressure. Not good. So he went to check with the neighbors in the studio apartment next to us. Apparently, our neighbor had gotten up early to discover his kitchen floor was wet around the door to the laundry room. When he opened the door, a wave of water came flooding through his apartment. The water heater had exploded – or at least, there was a sizable hole in it, and the laundry room had accumulated nearly 12 inches of water.

Fortunately, our neighbor is competent and clear-headed, and quickly shut off the water valve to the whole house. Also fortunately, our manager is much more proactive than our past management, and we had the problem fixed by noon. In the meantime, Ethan kindly massaged my lower back until the pain went away. No lasting damage to apartment or body. Just small-scale adventure. ♦

Victory!

We’ve been pestering our manager (and vicariously, the owner) for about three months now, asking for an oven that doesn’t leak gas. Ethan gave a written repair request to our landlord this afternoon – typed on an old-school typewriter, because we’re out of printer ink.

(Drumroll, please…) R.C. Willey called an hour later to set up a delivery time for this coming Monday!

And cue the happy dance:

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Blueprints for War

Sun-tzu said of spies:

there are five classes: (1) Local spies; (2) inward spies; (3) converted spies; (4) doomed spies; (5) surviving spies. 

Spies are an important part of warfare. Without them, you have no information about your enemy – and understanding your enemy is the most important tactical advantage. (Ender’s Game, anyone?) So if I intend to get any repairs done, I have to understand my landlord’s thought process and strategies. Which means I need to do some recruiting if I want to find out my landlord’s weak points.

Having LOCAL SPIES means employing the services of the inhabitants of a district.

Our house has 3 apartments in it. One with us, one with another married couple, and one with 5 single guys. Most, if not all, are students. But we are fortunate enough to live on the other side of the block from our landlord. Read: if we go 2 houses down, we can spy on them from the backyard. This could work quite nicely.

Having INWARD SPIES, making use of officials of the enemy.

Does my landlord have officials? I guess the homeowner. But the homeowner is the real problem here. We’re not even sure who the homeowner is. Clearly, we’re missing some information. The closest thing we have to spies in the “officials” category would probably be contacting the city. To the Better Business Bureau, away!

Having CONVERTED SPIES, getting hold of the enemy’s spies and using them for our own purposes.

I think this would require the enemy to have spies.

Gee, I hope they don’t have spies.

Having DOOMED SPIES, doing certain things openly for purposes of deception, and allowing our spies to know of them and report them to the enemy. 

First deceptive operation: make a written request for repairs, making sure to mention that we have several friends who are lawyers and would just love to sue the pants off of somebody right now. (Not true – but might get them moving on that oven…)

SURVIVING SPIES, finally, are those who bring back news from the enemy’s camp.

I really hope Sun-tzu was including the first four categories in this distinction.

The Art of War and My Landlord

I’m a genius.

And by that, I mean, I’ve found an outlet for my frustrations with the landlord – one that won’t get me evicted or arrested. After trying just about everything (legal) to get our landlord’s attention and get some repairs done, we’ve pretty much decided that we’re on our own. We’re probably gonna have to buy that new oven ourselves. We could go to the city – about the gas-leaking oven and the termites – but if the city requires repairs, the homeowner might actually just evict us. He just wants to take the place down and build a new complex anyway.

Anyways. My brilliant scheme. I just started reading The Art of War when it hit me. Everything that Sun-tzu says a general should do to his enemy is a really, really funny thing for a tenant to do to a landlord.

Disclaimer again: I’m not actually going to do this. As Sun-tzu said, “One who knows when he can fight, and when he cannot fight, will be victorious.” This is not a fight I can fight.

But it is a fight I can pretend to fight – and I’m going to write down exactly how I wish this fight would go – because every college student in Provo has at least one landlord they’ve wanted to wage total war on. And if I can write something that’s worth a few dollars to a student, I might even make some money. At least, enough to buy a working oven.

For now, remember “If they are rested, force them to exert themselves.” (We’ve been trying this one – to no avail – so maybe we’ll have to “Attack where they are unprepared.”) ♦

Junk Food Coma

I was running out the door a little late this morning, so I grabbed a handful of those little peanut-butter sandwich cookies to take with me. Breakfast. Those held me over until about 10:30, when I was really getting hungry. Right about that time, somebody brought in Bubba’s donuts – the huge ol’ box that you get at Costco when you want to be everybody’s favorite coworker. One delicious crumb donut later, I was a happy mooch.

That lasted about 30 minutes to an hour. At that point, my body took me by the shoulders, sat me down, and said, “Look, Honey. Sugar is not a legitimate food group. You need real food.” So I went to Arby’s and ate everything they had on the value menu. It was delicious. I regret nothing.

I do wish our landlords would replace our oven, though. I’m tired of junk food.

Tales of My Landlord

I got an editing job last week. It’s a temporary gig (hopefully one that will lead to other opportunities), where we’re working on publishing eBook versions of old documents and books currently in public domain. For the past two weeks, I’ve been writing and editing short author biographies – which led me to a grand discovery.

Sir Walter Scott, the famed author of Ivanhoe, wrote a work entitled, Tales of My Landlord. I was inspired. I don’t know what his tales were, but I think I’ve found a purpose to my frustration with my apartment’s owner and management. Perhaps this is a blessing in disguise. Perhaps this is my lucky break. I’m going to write down all my experiences with termites, holes in the kitchen floor, maggoty garbage and security cameras in the backyard, potentially explosive ovens, and a mouse named Charleton Heston. And then I’m going to publish them. And sell them for moneys. And get ridiculously rich and famous. And then I’ll buy everybody nice sweaters, and teach them how to dance.

Friends, if you’re reading this, do not fear. Our landlords are good people. They just forget some stuff. Some entertaining stuff. Landlords, if you’re reading this, will you please ask RC Willey to deliver that oven? Thanks. ♦