Posted by: Marie | February 16, 2010

(250) Just don’t tear it down!

Post #250
[Private journal entry written on Tuesday, November 3, 2009]

I am still so fucking angry.

I am working so hard to create a positive experience for myself. I work as hard as I can to earn income – I am super careful with how I spend money so I don’t have to put anymore time than necessary into earning it. I am dedicated to taking responsibility for the experience I am creating for myself – I’m doing the work necessary to heal from the inside out. I understand that it takes time and hard work.

Photo by Martin Chen

But, I’m frustrated with people. I’m frustrated with how easy it is for other people to tear down what I have worked so hard to build up.

I’m not asking other people to do my work for me – I’m just asking them to not tear down what I have built. I’m just asking them to be aware of the impact of their behaviors.

I shouldn’t have to tell someone 15 times how their behavior has a negative impact on me – and how a different behavior could have a positive impact. Telling them a few times should be sufficient. I don’t want to nag. I won’t nag – I’ll leave, instead. But, of course, that means I’m always leaving.

There has to be a better way.

I still feel like screaming at Erik. When his messes and conference calls and TV watching has compromised my ability to teach piano lessons in the past, I have tried talking calmly to him – it does no good. He trips over himself apologizing, but then he repeats the same behavior – his behavior is not going to change. This is the way things are in this house.

If I make a big deal about how their behavior is affecting me, Erik and Susan will likely tell me that I am no longer allowed to use the living room and the piano for piano lessons – they have already made comments to that effect when I have complained in the past.

I have invested over a year of time and advertising to establish my teaching business – I can’t afford to take the risk of losing access to my teaching venue – not yet, not until I can create an alternative plan. For now, I have to just keep my mouth shut and suffer in silence.

I am so pissed at this situation. When I moved in here two years ago, Erik and Susan (they are married and are the owners of the house, by the way) made it very clear they wanted me to feel like “their home was my home”. They assured me that we all had equal access to the common space. Well, that has turned out to be bullshit.

Erik works from home and his desk is in the common area. So, for the first 12 hours of the day, I have to be very, very quiet if I’m in the common area – nothing louder than a whisper. Then, when he finishes his work, he turns on the surround-sound TV in the living room – and it stays on until they go to bed.

I hate that fucking TV.

If someone drops by to see me, they won’t even turn down the TV while I answer the door – in order to have even a quick conversation, I have to take my guest outside (if weather allows) or to my bedroom (which can be dicey with someone I don’t know well) – my bedroom is the one room over which I have domain.

So, when it comes to piano lessons, I have had to fight for every minute of peace and quiet. Now that I’m teaching 2-3 hours of lessons at the house each week, it is getting to be a very tough battle – they complain a lot about the inconvenience to them.

The agreement was that I would give my housemates free piano lessons in exchange for use of the piano for teaching my other students.

They agreed to keep the common space generally clean. If I want the common space cleaner than it is, then I have to take it that extra mile myself. No biggie – if they keep it generally clean, I am happy to vacuum anytime I have a lesson (with three dogs, vacuuming is a daily chore) and to dust if the furniture gets dusty.

But, that is not what is happening. I am spending as much time cleaning (as in picking up messes and getting down on my hands and knees scrubbing) as I am teaching because they are not keeping the common area generally clean. I can get it picked up and clean and four hours later it looks like a tornado came through.

I haven’t been giving my housemates lessons because they don’t have time for lessons or practicing – but, I’m making up for it in time I spend cleaning up messes I have no part in creating.

The cleaning isn’t such an issue for me if it would stay clean once I clean it. But, the odds are good of it getting messed up again in the hours right before my teaching so that my students have to walk in on the mess. That pisses me off. It’s like living with children!

I wonder if they are making it difficult for me so I will quit teaching. Maybe that is not true, but it sure feels like it. They originally told me that they would be very happy to support my teaching lessons – happy to do whatever I needed in order for me to be successful. They even promised to keep the common space cleaned up and the noise level down.

That’s not what has been happening.

I’m just asking for them to support me like I support them. For example, the only day I can do laundry and wash my dishes in the dishwasher is Sunday because Susan needs all the hot water for her business on the other days. No problem – Sunday works for me.

However, on Sundays, I always find laundry in both machines. In order to do my laundry, I have to first push through their laundry. And, there are always dishes in the dishwasher. I have to sometimes run the dishwasher, then put away their clean dishes, then do mine. They know I need the machines each Sunday, one would think they could make sure the machines were available – but, no. That would be too much effort.

I wash my hair twice a week (my hair is long, thick, dry and curly). I wash it on Sunday in between my loads of laundry. Then, I go into “stand-by” mode for the mid-week hair wash – I have to wait until Susan has a two-hour block of time where she doesn’t need the hot water. Sometimes my schedule doesn’t fit with her schedule and I don’t get to wash my hair midweek – then it gets really nasty. Or, I have to wash it late at night and go to bed with wet hair.

Also, Susan has to run her big vacuums and dryers as part of her business . . . when she does, the noise carries over into the living room and it really impedes my ability to teach.

But, her business has priority – I respect that. I just grit my teeth and deal with the inconveniences – I make the best of it.

And, I can’t have guests over. I have minimal rights to the common area upstairs – and the downstairs is now so full of the car restoration project Erik has going that all the furniture downstairs is buried and unusable. There is basically a path to my room – that was not the case when I moved in – the basement open area used to be a usable space. I used to be able to have friends over even when the TV was blaring upstairs because I could take my friends into the basement family room. That is no longer an option.

I am frustrated that my guests have to walk through the dog hair and piles of laundry, and through the maze of car parts to get to my bedroom – and then, they have to sit on my bed. That sucks.

Most of the challenges are not that big of a deal – with a bit of coordination, we could easily make it work. But, it seems that I do all the coordinating and accommodating while Erik and Susan just do what they do without a thought of how it might impact me.

I like Erik and Susan, as people, most of the time. I enjoy their friendship. However, I feel shit-on quite often when it comes to day-to-day stuff. I have said something a few times, but it doesn’t seem to make any difference. I now understand how thing are . . . and this is the way things will be until I’m able to afford a more ideal living arrangement. I have to just suck it up.

Maybe I need to start being a raging bitch.


  1. I think you’ve pretty much said it all. You are going to move. If you don’t, well, shame on you. Unless you have it in writing with a lease agreement about the piano and (damn!) washing your hair? You should be able to wash your hair! You live under a monarchy, and you certainty are not the ruler. And by the way, you don’t have to put their dishes up – just stack them on the counter and let them do it AND you don’t have to finish their laundry; put it on the floor. They’ll probably kick you out but you’d be better off. [again, steps off soap box]

    • Hey, Ivory –

      I am so glad you are fighting my battles for me long distance, LOL!

      So, what if this is a repeat performance of what always happens with me? What if I can stick around and figure out a better way? If I leave and just recreate the same situation again, have I gained anything by leaving?

      Hmmmm . . . guess you’ll have to just keep reading to see what happens, LOL!

      – Marie

  2. If you leave and recreate the same situation, I hope you can at least wash your hair when you want. That’s ridiculous. Damn. Even me and my high tolerance for pretty much everything would be fuming in that situation!

    • Thanks for the sympathy, freelyfloating . . . LOL

      Actually, the hair washing thing is not as big of a deal as it might seem . . . because my hair is so incredibly dry and I live in an incredibly dry climate, there is no way I could wash it more than twice a week.

      So, missing the mid-week washing is about like an average person not being able to wash his or her for a day or two — not ideal but not really that huge of a deal.

      Nevertheless . . . it’s the principal . . .

      Thanks for the support!!

      – Marie

  3. It really does seem that it is time to look for a different place.

    As to the same thing again. I guess it means seeing what you can do differently – a more formal lease with special stuff in writing perhaps.

    I’d certainly hate being in your situation.

    • Hey, Evan –

      You are right; it is not a very good situation.

      I’m actually pretty easy to get along with . . . I’m fine with “giving” in order to share limited resources . . .

      The part that triggers the anger is when I need to do some “taking” and I’m told that I have no right to the taking — or, when someone assures me there will be giving on both sides but I discover that the giving only goes one way.

      I recognize that this is something I re-create over and over again in my life — I find myself trying to be as small as possible on an energetic level so I don’t take up more space than I am due . . . so I don’t trigger other people’s anger and so I don’t get displaced and rejected.

      It has been my experience that, despite working so hard to take up as little space as possible, I still piss off people who are taking up much more space — they get angry when I complain about them stepping into my space.

      So . . . I can see this is a life lesson that I need to learn — how to comfortably take up all of the space I am entitled to occupy — and how to protect my space in a healthy way.

      Until I learn to do this, I suspect I will continue to create this scenario.

      That is why I am hesitant to leave — at least the evils here are known, and they aren’t that bad — other than the piano lesson stuff.

      – Marie

  4. Get the hell out of there!

    What I might suggest is that next time, you “interview” your prospective landlords with *your* standards and needs in mind. Yes, you need to save money, but don’t forget — the landlord wouldn’t be renting space if he or she didn’t need your rent. You have rights as well, and somewhere out there is a good fit for you. For example, you would be my idea of a dream housemate, not because I would exploit you, but because we would have similar standards and habits. I’m sure I’m not the only person who will regard you as a dream come true.

    I think part of the challenge here may be that you are (very understandably) tending to come from a position of feeling vulnerable or financially fragile. But being financially fragile doesn’t mean you can’t have a good living situation. I’d say start looking around … given what I’ve observed of your personality on your blog, I wonder if a good fit for you might be with someone elderly, who is basically independent but would be safer with someone living in the house who can help with stuff that’s not safe for an older person to do (carrying laundry up and down stairs, things like that). Those types of people are usually pretty easy to live with, especially if you’re helping them to retain their independence … and they often have a piano. :-) I know this from working in real estate … just about everyone over the age of 70, with any independent means at all, has a piano; it was a status symbol for that generation.

    • Hey, David –

      Wow . . . thank you for the compliment . . . any chance you live in Colorado, LOL?

      Anyway, a lot of what I said in my responses to the other comments would apply here, too . . . this really isn’t that bad of a situation (I’ve been in much worse) if it weren’t for the conflict over the piano lessons.

      Even the “having friends over” situation isn’t that major because I tend to isolate anyway, so I tend to not have friends over much. And, I can always meet them elsewhere. Dating would be tough . . . but, I’m not nearly ready for that, anyway . . .

      My employment situation and financial situation have been so dire over the last several years . . . it’s getting better, but it sure has been tough. I feel like I can’t afford to do anything that would cost more money or jepordize my employment situation — I just have no buffer, sometimes I have wondered how I was going to buy groceries.

      But . . . I’ll give you a hint . . . things have gotten much better since I wrote this . . . stay tuned, LOL!

      – Marie

    • Oh, and . . . thank you for the idea on renting from an elderly person . . . that is actually a great idea that I hadn’t thought of!

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