Monday, July 16, 2012

I'm at Starbucks again at an ungodly hour for me, getting here at 7:15 AM. "What the fuck," you ask? Truth is, I haven't slept all night, because once again, my sleep patterns got messed up due to my lack of a regular schedule. So, instead of lying awake, staring at my ceiling, I got up, cleaned up, then came here. I'm surprised at how busy it is at this early hour on a Saturday morning. I actually had to stand in line longer than I ever have during normal hours. But, tables were abundant. I'm sure my body will rebel later today, but I'm going to hold it off as long as possible.


I've also had a restless mind the last few days, and nights filled with weird dreams that have me waking up in a sweat. I continue to work on my latest collage, an abstract one which is a new undertaking for me. One that Oliver likes to plop himself right in the middle of while I'm working on it.

Speaking of Oliver, I have an update on Oliver's former owner. For those of you who don't know Oliver's rescue story, go here. It will make this part that much more entertaining. A couple of months ago, she told me that she had found a new apartment in Los Feliz for $2300 a month. I don't want to ask how she can afford it, but apparently she runs a "sugar daddy match making service" (I'll leave what that is up to your imagination). I'll put good money up that it's a tax-free *cough* escort enterprise. And no, I'm not going to provide a link to it.

Since I'd instigated an "intervention" and helped her get her apartment back from squalor to livable conditions back in 2008, save for a few times that she showed me how she'd decorated it right after the clean up, I'd not seen her apartment. I'm on the first floor, and she was on the second, so there was really no reason for me to go by the apartment to try to get a discreet peek. Our building is what some clever neighbors have dubbed it, a "square horse shoe" with a pool in the middle. Most of our living rooms face the pool, while the bedrooms face the street.

I won't lie. I had hope. I was optimistic. I knew, because of her own poor hygiene, that it wasn't going to be spotless, but maybe she'd kept it livable since my intervention almost four years ago. When I'd spoken to her and learned of her move, she told me that she was going to clean before the movers got there. And, I'd see her carrying some bags of trash out and various small items that she didn't want anymore, like a huge red crushed-velvet lampshade with ball tassels that resembled a pimp hat, broken chairs, and soiled posters. Then came the day when she told me that she couldn't get a drawer open in one of her dressers.

I'd found my in.

I offered to help, and when she let me inside, the sweet, sour, urine-tinted, rancid smell hit me first, then the sight of the heaps of junk and trash. It looked like the Big Bang, not filled with matter, but furniture, broken frames, chairs and glass, clothes, books, pills, papers, dishes, hangers, filth, decomposing food, trash, trash and more trash, had occurred inside her apartment. The kitchen was a black hole, so filled with junk that it was completely void of light. Spiderwebs sagging under the weight of years of dust clung to the walls and ceiling, and a foot-wide corridor between a wall and the junk was full of new spiderwebs, residents hanging in the middle, confident they'd remain undisturbed. I was shocked. Why I was shocked, I don't know. What the fuck was I expecting?

"It's this one," she said, pointing to the chest of drawers, oblivious to my shock. I sighed, lifted my knee up to my waist and took a heaping step over the first pile of junk. Then another, and another. I knelt before the chest, first checking for any spiders, and by using a wire hanger, was able to move the object which was blocking the drawer and wrench it open. Inside of the drawer was more junk. She told me that she wasn't sure she was going to keep the piece and asked me if I wanted it. I thanked her for the kind offer, but declined.

When I got back to my apartment, I took my shoes off outside, went inside and washed up to my elbows, then back outside to spray my shoes with Lysol. I went straight to Oliver, sunk my fingers inside his thick mane and scratched his neck. As he leaned into it and purred, I said, "I know I've told you this before, but you dodged a bullet, dude." I then hugged him.

When her moving day came, the neighbors took pictures of her stained vintage furniture coming out of the apartment, carried by some unfortunate day laborers. I wasn't there for the move. For the next couple of weeks, she took some more things outside and set them by the trash bin. I can't even imagine what they must have thought upon walking into her apartment. No, goosestepping into her apartment to get over the mounds of trash.

For a few weeks after that, I'd see her lethargically trudging up to her apartment and bringing down bags of items, or more broken, soiled things. Items that came into her possession fine and once put through her destruction mill, left ruined. This was one of them, a poster that reads, "Dreams are the touchstones of our character." I saw it when I was pulling out of my parking spot and stopped to take this photo. As I looked at it, discarded and ruined,  plexiglass soiled with an ancient, crusted food spill that she never bothered to clean off,  I felt anger swirl in my stomach.The stain reminded me of seeing Oliver so sick before I insisted that we take him to the emergency vet, as her whole apartment was filled with spots where he'd thrown up. For all I know, that's exactly what is on that picture. The quote on the poster deepened that anger, as it's how she sees herself, a delicate little coquette who wouldn't harm a fly. But, then I realized that it's wasted anger, as she clearly suffers from mental illness. To her credit, when she realized Oliver was ill, she did ask me to look at him. But to her discredit, he became that ill because of her neglect in letting him chew and swallow foam from her flip flops.

After she turned the apartment over to the landlord, it became the tourist attraction of the building. Everyone had heard about her living conditions, and wandered in to gape at the mess that was left behind. I took this picture of the sink, which clearly hadn't been cleaned in the four years since 2008. What you can't see in this picture, are the dead bug carcasses encased in the inch-thick filth. The ring around the sink is where the water stood stagnant for years. She damaged everything so badly that the landlord had to replace the toilet, refrigerator, bedroom closet sliding glass doors, linoleum in the bathroom, carpet in the entire apartment, and re-glaze the tub and sink. The sliding mirrored doors broke outward because she had so much junk stuffed into her closet, that it finally forced them off their bottom rails and broke the glass. I saw it in person, the buckled doors with cracked mirrors, and huge shards of broken mirror, surrounded by splinters, shattered all over the floor, left exactly where it fell for years. She told me upon her last few weeks there, that "the earthquake had done it." I just looked at her and said, "I see." Since she'd been there, we'd only had one earthquake that was a decent shaker, but it did no damage. In order to force sliding doors off their tracks, it would have had to be as big and shallow as the Northridge quake, with an epicenter right under our building. The refrigerator had to be replaced because it was infested with mold that was encrusted with dead ants and bugs, reminiscent of the scene from "Aliens" when the marines discover the room full of dead colonists encased in alien goo. My next door neighbor, who was nice enough to pitch in for day one of cleaning back in 2008,  had done an excellent job in cleaning it out, and both the freezer and refrigerator had only consisted of thousands of dead ants, not any mold. This means that since starting with literally, a clean plate in 2008, she'd let it get that bad.

This is the kitchen after she "cleaned."
According to the landlord's brother, she'd also left a pile of used maxi-pads in her bedroom, (something she'd done as well in 2008) and among everything, had left her driver's license behind. I have to wonder how someone like this even functions minimally in society, and it makes me look at everyone differently. How many hoarders are among us, living in filth? In 2008, on a phone call during the Oliver ordeal, I'd explained her dire living conditions to her mother who groaned and said unsurprised, "Her last apartment was the same way."

I think it's safe to say she didn't get her security deposit back.

Now, here's where things are going to get interesting in her new place. I swear I can't make this shit up. She moved into an "exclusive Spanish Courtyard Hacienda, recently designated a Cultural Historic Landmark." Please keep the above pictures in mind which trust me, are the least of the filth, and what I just wrote when you read this, from their website. For you architecture and history lovers, you may want to get a tissue beforehand. I decided not to include the name of the building on my website. However, there's enough information here that if you really wanted to find it on the web, you will. If you plan to look it up and see the beauty of these historical gems, I suggest two tissues.

"...architectural masterpiece constructed in 1928 by a pair of the period's most prominent architects.  Located on the Eastern edge of Hollywood, adjacent to Los Feliz, the property is in close proximity to Griffith Park and the Barnsdall Art Park and within walking distance to Los Feliz Village. In a neighborhood with examples of apartment properties from throughout the 20th century, this property stands out as a beautifully restored historical treasure. Designed by Arthur B. and Nina W. Zwebell, the [building] is known as a pioneer of the courtyard style architecture that has become so pervasive in Los Angeles building."

Some of the amenities are original imported Spanish tiles, original restored hardwood floors, original light fixtures and unique period architectural details . And the cherry on the cake, this is the building's statement on it's website, ""the [building] Tenets for Tenants…or in other words, you would want to live in a place where your neighbors follow these principles which include, 'Keep your common areas clean…regardless of whether people can see them or not.'"

This gorgeous apartment is destined for ruin. However, there is an upside. The building doesn't allow pets.


Stinky Junior said...

Thought in my mind the entire time I'm reading this is "Man, I hope she can't ever get another cat." Thanks for that last sentence.

Kacey said...

Wishing that apartment managers would do some sort of "past history search" to determine if they will allow crazy, destructive people to rent properties. It would save them pain and money! You are a very kind-hearted lady.

Jeanne said...

Oh, my. I googled, and it is exactly the type of place I would LOVE to live in, were I able to afford it and still in L.A.

I am ever so hopeful that events occur that, uh, necessitate her immediately finding, er, other accommodations that are more, uh, "suitable" for her, um, lifestyle choice so as to leave a beautiful place like this available to those who will truly treasure it. And that the new place doesn't allow animals either.

Adrasteia said...

My GOD. I'm so glad you rescued Oliver. You'd think those people running the hacienda would inquire about her previous rentals before letting her move in, but evidently not. May she never have another animal. I'm amazed she didn't suffocate in the garbage. Or from some sort of fungal infection.

Anne said...

Stinky Junior. Anytime. As an animal lover, and knowing that there are several who would be concerned, I wanted to put those fears to rest.

Kacey, Agreed on the past history, but sometimes, and I know my landlord is one of them, he was probably just so glad to get rid of her that he "withheld" that information. Meaning, if they didn't ask, he didn't tell. And thank you.

Jeanne, they are indeed beautiful places. I didn't warn the landlord because it's a journey she's going to have to face. Finally, a place that will hold her accountable, both financially and legally, for her actions.

Adrasteia, You would think they'd require some neighbor references or something. I hope she never gets one either. I'll keep an eye on her "social" presence, and if she does, that I WILL report to the authorities. I'm sure she had all types of um, infections. She smells horrible. And hey, you helped me rescue Oliver with your kind donation to his cause. Don't think that I forgot. ;) A little secret, so did Stinky (Comment #1) up there.

Anne said...

Oops, hit send before I was finished. Meant to say that Jeanne (Comment #2) is an Oliver benefactor too.

HunnerWoof said...

It baffles me that in today's market landlords aren't more careful. It's a landlord's market right now with vacancy rates at all time lows. There's no shortage of good, respectable tenants for a place like this.

Honestly, if I were you, I'd anonymously email some of those photos to the new management company and might want to schedule monthly inspections for your new tenant.


Priyanca said...

Hi Anne, I've been reading your blog for years (5 or 6) and I love it. With regards to your ex-neighbour's filthy apartment, I'm quite surprised that your landlord didn't inspect the property over the years. Is that not common in the U.S? I live in New Zealand and monthly inspections by the landlord are pretty common here so that landlords are able to keep tabs on how the house/apartment's being treated and tenants whose behavior/practices could potentially damage the place would be evicted long before it got to such a state (and depending on the damage, would lose their bond payment as your ex-neighbor did).

Anne said...

Hunnerwoof, it's astounding, isn't it? I thought of that, but the fact that she can't have pets there is the reason that I don't. And, perhaps they will end up suing her and it will be something she's forced to deal with, and perhaps the proper authorities can get involved.

Anne said...

Priyanca, thank you so much! Wow, five or six years, and all the way from New Zealand! Glad I haven't bored you yet. ;) There are a lot of tenants rights here, however hoarders can be kicked out. The landlord can only check if there is reason, say complaints from other tenants or if it really smells foul. They can't do a surprise check or anything like that. However, the Health Department can. The landlord here knew of the conditions and could have notified the health dept on her, and it would have been all over. They'd given her a chance to clean up by a certain time or get kicked out. But, he didn't. His brother was in there all the time fixing things, and the LL was as well. Any of us could have called also, but no one did. He did warn her about it though.