Don’t Rent to Us

Kathleen and I have lived together for almost five years. We get along really well, we cohabitate peacefully, and we’ve remained close friends regardless of any typical roommate-related disagreements that may have come up.

But we’re cursed.

When we first moved in together, we found a nice spot in the Fan. As with many Fan apartments, this one too was inundated with mice, mold, leaks, broken appliances, broken locks, drafty windows and warped doors. But we just chalked all that stuff up to the drawbacks of an old building as we laughed and hugged and told each other how much we liked living together.

And then we got the hell out of there before the roof collapsed in on us.

From there, we moved to an apartment building in Shockoe Bottom. You know, something more stable and up-to-date with more credibility and fewer rodents.

But somehow our complications still followed us.

And I’m not talking about minor concerns like an occasional light bulb replacement. I mean, major issues.

THE GARBAGE DISPOSAL

Our first order of business when we moved in: have a broken garbage disposal. Now, we know the rules of owning a disposal and we didn’t put anything suspicious in it. If that’s what you’re thinking.

It just kept breaking on its own. We’d have to plunge out its contents and wash them back down, then make a service request with the building maintenance crew. They’d fix it, and it would be fine for a little while, and then it would break again.

Finally they gave in, and installed a brand new disposal. It worked beautifully and we lived happily ever after.

“Whew, glad that’s been resolved and we can move on with our lives without having to think about any other household disturbances,” we both thought, like idiots.

THE PANTRY DOOR

Our pantry door was one of those stupid sliding/folding doors that was a horrible off-white color and made a nails-on-a-chalkboard scraping noise whenever anyone opened it. And as if all that stuff wasn’t bad enough, it would frequently pop off the door frame and flap freely into the kitchen like a flag in the wind.

After many maintenance calls, we finally figured out that we could just pop it back in ourselves.

Okay…that one was partially our fault.

THE TIME WE ALMOST DIDN’T GO TO EUROPE BECAUSE OUR KITCHEN FLOODED WITH WHITE PAINT WATER AS WE WERE PACKING TO LEAVE

Then there was the time we almost didn’t go to Europe because our kitchen flooded with white paint water as we were packing to leave.

While we sat on the floor of our dining room making the last minute additions and checks, we heard a steady drip of water coming from the kitchen. We got up to find our entire sink filled with this chalk-colored liquid, brimming over and spilling onto the floor in a manner as if it had no intention of stopping.

I assume it got resolved, though, because by the time we came home two months later, it didn’t do that anymore.

THE LAUNDRY ROOM

If you missed this piece about how we got kicked out of our last apartment, here’s your chance to read it. To summarize (but then go read it because it’s an absolute knee-slapper!): Our laundry room flooded approximately once a week for over a year. No matter what the maintenance crew did and no matter how many times they came to do it, the laundry room continued its debauchery. It led to mold, cracked floor tiles, warped floorboards, and many wet kitchen mats.

And don’t even get me started on the resulting cockroaches, as I might curl up into a ball of hyperventilation on my kitchen counter again.

In the end, we never saw this one the whole way through because our landlords politely moved us to a new unit so that they could fix the issue once and for all.


So, great! We’ve moved out of the cursed apartment and into a fresh start.

Or so we thought.

But just like when we moved out of the apartment in the Fan, our issues continued to follow us. But this time the issues graduated from minor annoyances to full-on malfunctioning appliances.


THE REFRIGERATOR(S)

The first week in our new apartment, I went to grab something from the refrigerator before leaving for work. I noticed it was a little…unchilled. I touched another thing. Unchilled. Another thing. Unchilled.

What the…?

Unbeknownst to us, our entire refrigerator had shut down in the middle of the night amidst our slumber. So we set aside the food items that were salvageable, and broodingly threw away the rest. We made a less-than-friendly call to our management office, who, to their credit, took care of the issue promptly. We had a new refrigerator by the next day.

I won’t go into the tedious details of the rest of the fiasco. But I’ll just tell you that this exact circumstance happened two more times. TWO MORE TIMES.

Refrigerator breaks. We have to throw away our perishables. We call our landlords. They provide a new refrigerator. Repeat.

Finally, they wised up and realized that we couldn’t be trusted with just any old, used refrigerator. We needed a brand new one.

And so that’s what we got.

THE OVEN

We started to notice that the front right burner wasn’t warming up very quickly, or getting as hot as the others. Eventually we noticed that it barely worked at all. And then we noticed that it was cold metal coils no matter how high the dial was turned.

So we informed our landlords.

I guess at this point they knew they just needed to cut to the chase when it came to us, because shortly thereafter, we came home and had an entire, brand new oven.

Perhaps that was a bit extreme. To be honest, I didn’t think one non-working burner was that big of a deal. But who can say no to a never-before-used flat top stove?

AND NOW…THE DISHWASHER

There’s not really a good story to this. I guess I could try to spin it in an interesting manner, but you get the idea at this point: after awhile, we began to observe that the appliance in question wasn’t working as well as it should have been. Then eventually it stopped working altogether.

And yesterday, we got word that we’re getting a brand new one.


Just as a disclaimer: Before you start thinking that it’s the quality of the apartment building itself and not us that’s cursed (because, yes, we thought this too), we became aware that none of our neighbors have had as many home-related problems as we’ve had. But at least our curse comes with new stuff.


So, to the River Lofts management team and leasing office: I’m sorry you ever decided to rent to us, and I know you’re sorry too. But if you wouldn’t mind hurrying it up with that dishwasher already, that would be great. I’m just really tired of hand-washing everything, okay?

Love,

Rachel and Kathleen

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Costumes of Halloween Past

Around Christmas, many people enjoy sitting around with their families, fondly reminiscing about joyful Christmas memories.

Similarly, I do the same thing on Halloween. I enjoy sitting around with my family (I mean, by myself), fondly reminiscing about joyful Halloween costumes.

And I thought this year, I would share.


2006: My first college Halloween. My roommate Alyssa and I decided to dress up as rock stars. Because college was teaching us to think outside the box. I, on the right, was Ashlee Simpson (the brunette, post-nose job version, of course). I can’t remember (or tell) who Alyssa was. I also can’t remember why we were posing with a poster of Pirates of the Caribbean.

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2007: I said farewell to my female emo pop star days, and hello to “Dunder Mifflin, this is Pam.” At this point in my life, my obsession with The Office was palpable, so it just seemed obvious to dress up as one of the characters. Especially the one that looked exactly like me.

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2008: This was the year after Juno came out and, like any teenage/early-20’s girl, I was a huge fan. So much that I simply had to figure out how to make it look like my eggo was preggo and walk around like a hormonal, sarcastic 16-year-old. Honest to blog it wasn’t so hard.

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2010: My job at the local Australian steakhouse (Outback) permitted us to dress up on Halloween. While most of the other female servers used this opportunity to show off what they normally had to cover with frumpy uniforms (a few girls even got sent home to change, as I recall) I used this opportunity to show off my love for kid game shows from the ’90s.

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2011: My first and only Halloween living in Australia. Generally, I try to get pretty creative with my Halloween costumes. But as you can see, this year I made an exception. Perhaps I was afraid no one would get my pop culture references. Perhaps I didn’t know what was culturally normal. Perhaps I was just lazy. But for this costume, I found a cheap pair of cat ears and paired them with every piece of black clothing I had brought with me. It appears that everyone else had the same mind set. Better luck next time.

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2012: It’s a-me! (Sorry). My BFF and I wanted to dress up in complementary costumes this year, so naturally we landed on Mario and Peach. What I learned: World of Mirth has great clip-on mustaches, and overalls are great for concealing a flask.

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2014: This was the year of my gloriously broken foot. And since I couldn’t remove the boot from my costume, I decided to let it influence my costume instead. Which is how I ended up as Tiny Tim. Disclosure: I am wearing pants.

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2016: Due to a haircut a few months prior, which came out very mom-esque, I could only think of one way to spend my Halloween last year: in a turtleneck/cardigan combo passing out freshly baked cookies while making sure everyone made it home safely.

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And let’s not forget this year, where I simply couldn’t decide which homemade costume to use.


And now: the opening of the Trick-or-Treat files.

1992: Was I a princess? Was I a ghost? Was I a bride? Did my parents just use Halloween as an excuse to put me in the dressy clothes that I never wore otherwise and would soon outgrow? Whatever I was, I’m sure I was unhappy about not looking as cool as my brother the skeleton, and my other brother the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle. Also you can tell I was totally cheating at that game.

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1993: No, not a cow. I was obviously dressed up as Perdita from 101 Dalmatians. And too busy thinking about something else (candy) to notice there was a picture being taken.

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1994: If you really think about it, those Lion King costumes are pretty dumb. The character’s mouth was designed to fit over the wearers head, making it appear that the lion cub is eating the child. But you can tell from my expression that I thought I looked cool as hell. Because frankly, I did.

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1995: If you’re here to make fun of my makeup, you can keep those comments to yourself and move along. I killed it this year with my costume, tiara and all. I don’t remember much about this Halloween, but I do remember staring at myself in the mirror for a long time. I was just so darn shiny.

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“Fall Is”: A Poem by Rachel Marsh

Fall Is…

Fall is natural beautyFall

Fall is red trees.

Fall is bon fires.

Fall is s’mores.

Fall is roasted marshmallows.

Fall is mountains.

Fall is Sunday afternoon football with friends!

Fall is acorns.

Fall is pumpkin patches.

Fall is corn mazes.

Fall is cozy evenings at home.

Fall is trendy boots and flannel.

Fall is chili.

Fall is going to Starbucks with a good book.

Fall is pumpkin lattes.

Fall is sleeping with the windows open.

Fall is camping.

Fall is hiking.

Fall is chattering teeth.

Fall is warm hot chocolate.

Fall is hoodies.

Fall is toasty sweaters!

Fall is romantic chilly walks.

Fall is hot cinnamon apple cider.

Fall is warm socks.

Fall is snuggling.

Fall is crunchy leaves.

Fall is pink cheeks.

Fall is holiday anticipation.

Fall is fireplaces.

Fall is red wine.

Fall is a second glass of red wine.

Fall is screw it, the whole bottle of red wine.

Fall is accidentally passing out on the couch.

Fall is miserable hangovers from all that damn red wine.

Fall is all of the flowers dying.

Fall is mice coming into your house.

Fall is not liking camping, actually.

Fall is so many frickin’ leaves to rake.

Fall is being too old to jump in the pile of leaves.

Fall is burning the crap out of your tongue on hot chocolate.

Fall is not giving a shit about football.

Fall is your coworkers not being able to discuss anything except football.

Fall is one step before winter.

Fall is a great reminder that you’re still single.

Fall is the onset of Seasonal Affective Disorder.

Fall is wondering why all of the malls have started decorating for Christmas already.

Fall is trying to get that musty storage smell out of your winter clothes.

Fall is remembering how annoying scarves are around your neck.

Fall is fake holidays that we celebrate anyway, like “Black Friday,” or “Columbus Day.”

Fall is pumpkin spice-sponsored cavities.

Fall is what the hell am I going to be for Halloween this year?

Fall is stupid kids ruining your evening with their trick-or-treating.

Fall is the looming family-infiltrated holidays ahead.

Fall is getting fat from the holiday carbs.

Fall is remembering how much you hate pumpkin beer.

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Farewell, Crossroads

Well, friends and readers, the day has come. I’ve found a full time job. Which means a whole lot of things, but one of them is that I’ll have to quit my part time job at Crossroads Coffee and Ice Cream.

In all my experience in the service industry, this has easily been the most consistently laidback position I’ve ever worked. I’m going to miss the coworkers, the laughs, and above all, the free coffee. But what I’ll miss more than anything are the regulars.

A 14-year-old coffee shop located in the middle of a neighborhood on a high-traffic road is bound to bring in a lot of regular customers. I would like to take this time to commemorate each of them, but, to protect their privacy from my high profile blog, I’m just going to refer to all of the regulars by their orders instead of their names.


Cinnamon Raisin Bagel with One Egg Patty and a Side of Grape Jelly

I don’t really understand your breakfast preferences but you are the smiliest person I’ve ever met and are the only white person in my current life who calls me “Miss Rachel.”

Large Iced Coffee in a 24-oz Tervis Tumbler with Refill

This time two years ago, if someone had asked me if it was possible for someone to drink that much coffee in the span of 15 minutes, I would have said no. Thank you for showing me that anything is possible.

Large Coffee and a Cinnamon Chip Scone

It’s pronounced “scone.” NOT “SCON.”

Small Coffee with a Fruit and Yogurt Parfait

You’re shy and sweet and smile a lot, and you always insist on buying something you could just make at home. I will miss our brief interactions, many of which consist of me commenting on your scrubs.

Large Nonfat Decaf Latte

What’s the point?

Egg Sandwich on a Croissant with Pesto

Thank you for the weird cartoon you drew me last year, acknowledging how much you enjoyed the sandwich I made.

Pork Rinds

Hey, lady, I saw you sneaking pork rinds into Crossroads every day. And not buying anything. And getting mad at me whenever I ask you not to bring in outside food because it’s a health code violation. I sure am going to miss you. And your crazy eyes. And your bigoted conversations about gay marriage.

Everything Bagel with Vegan Cream Cheese and Avocado

It took me forever to realize…

Egg and Cheese Sandwich on Wheat Bread

…that you two were married.

Large Mocha Smoothie with Whip

I’m sincerely sorry that you dislike your job as a teacher so much. I’m sorry that you have a classroom ratio of 30:1. I agree that the education system is really screwed up. I agree that teachers are treated poorly and severely underpaid. But please stop complaining to your baristas. And for gosh sake’s, tip them once in awhile.

Small Iced Mocha

I look forward to the day when I too can retire and spend my afternoons on the patio of a local coffee shop, wearing Hawaiian shirts and drinking cold beverages.

Large Vanilla Chai Smoothie with Whip

I thought you were kind of strange and then I read a local article about you and how you used to fly Black Op helicopters for the army, so now I’m too intimidated to talk to you.

Egg Patty on Gluten Free Bread with a Dry Almond Milk Cappuccino

You are a person that knows what you like, and I have to admire that about you. But please get yourself acquainted with some seasonings. Or some condiments or something.

Southpark Tie Guy

I couldn’t categorize you by your order because you’re wildly inconsistent, but let me just say that your ability to turn any karaoke song into a show tune is something in my life I never thought I would see.


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Farewell, Crossroads. And an extra special farewell to its regulars. You guys drove me crazy and kept me sane all at the same time.

Or was that the constant over-consumption of caffeine?

My Latest Car Inspection Report

Inspection Summary for: MARSH, RACHEL D.

05/09/2017 1:52 PM


1999 Honda CR-V EX RED

Odometer In: 240966

License: XYY-8047


Sub Estimate #1

Lube, oil and filter

Labor: $35

Parts: $117.52

Total Taxes: $17.83

Sub Estimate Total: $170.35


Sub Estimate #2

R&R front disc rotor and alignment

Labor: $57

Parts: $478.98

Total Taxes: $90.05

Sub Estimate Total: $626.03


Sub Estimate #3

Radiator air shutter

Labor: $125

Parts: $732.60

Total Taxes: $208.75

Sub Estimate Total: $1,066.35


Sub Estimate #4

Something something something something car terms blah blah blah

Labor: $679

Parts: $2,450.38

Total Taxes: $980.57

Sub Estimate Total: $4,109.95


Sub Estimate #5

Automatic power steering transmission fluid I’m blue da ba dee da ba daa system flush exchange disc rotors hips don’t lie catalytic converter mmbop oil filter engine replacement.

Labor: $1,975

Parts: $3,050.45

Total Taxes: $778.94

Sub Estimate Total: $5,804.39


Sub Estimate #6

A voltage regulator, whatever the heck that is

Labor: $480

Parts: $3,728.55

Total Taxes: $752.90

Sub Estimate Total: Call your parents


Sub Estimate #7

Family vacation to Cancun

Labor: $4,085

Parts: $5,728.55

Total Taxes: $1,752.90

Sub Estimate Total: Your firstborn child


Sub Estimate #8

Transmission harmonic torque converter module

Labor: A LOT

Parts: We don’t even know if there’s a number for this

Total Taxes: Your rent for a year

Sub Estimate Total: Bankruptcy


Grand Total All Sub Estimates: the equivalent to your entire college tuition, times three, plus six years of indentured slavery, with an additional $65 service fee.

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Dogsitting

This week, my mother is out of town for some important media trip, and has asked me to dogsit for her.

Which is a task I dread every time I have to do it. And I want to be a good daughter, because she raised me and still supports me and has been there for me when I’ve needed her and blah blah blah. But every time she asks, I cross my fingers for an excuse not to do it because frankly, dogsitting for her is a fate I wouldn’t bestow upon anyone.

 

  • First of all, the best part about housesitting or dogsitting for anyone is raiding their snacks. But everything she has is so gosh darn healthy, I don’t even know what to do with it.

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  • In fact, I can barely find any space to put my REAL food.

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  • Okay, but no big deal. As long as she has coffee, I’ll be fine.

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But…a jigsaw coffeemaker!?!?

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But who invented this
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Maybe if just shut it really hard
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Maybe it just figures it out itself
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Maybe I’m thinking about it too much
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Close…
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…enough.

 

  • Oh and another thing. My mom has one of those iSmartAlarm alarm systems, so she’s alerted whenever a door or window has been opened. Therefore she knows whenever I get home at night, whenever I get up in the morning, and if I’ve stayed out all night partying without coming back to feed the dogs.

 

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It’s like dogsitting for Big Brother.

 

  • And I can’t even try to get anything done with this face looking at me the entire time.

Should I Reinstall My Bangs?

I was bald for the first year of my life.

I went that entire year having to rely on my large eyes, easy smile, and rolls of fat to get people’s attention. I didn’t have the advantage of thick, shiny hair, like many of my associates had, to fall back on.

Every day was a struggle.

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Eventually my hair grew in (blonde, in case anyone was wondering). I went through the “Baby’s First Haircut” photoshoot, and I’m sure somewhere there’s a lock of my hair stuffed into one of those baby scrapbooks that literally no parent has ever completed.

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So as my hair grew and became like a normal child’s, my hairstyle matched those of any young white girl’s in the 90’s: long hair that was usually tangled in hundreds of places, topped with thick bangs sitting straight across my eyebrow line. And if I was lucky, my mom would toilet paper them on special occasions.

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To put it bluntly, I was…well, I was adorable.

Then came third grade. When every girl whose parents had bestowed bangs upon them decided to grow them out. And since I was definitely cool, that’s what I wanted to do too. I asked my parents to buy me clips to help shove them aside during the growing process, and they did.

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By fourth grade, my forehead was the clear, bangs-free forehead I had dreamed of.

I lived the low-ponytail, center-part life every day until middle school.

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Like I said, I was definitely cool.

Then in seventh grade, the bangs fad returned. And since I was definitely cool, my bangs also returned. They were the feathery kind, not as thick as before…and I think they lasted about a month until I realized that they did not look good I was too cool for them.

My hair has gone through a lot of alterations since then, including some highlights, blowouts, bad haircuts, good haircuts, its own recent decision to become curly, and more split ends than I care to even imagine.

And now I’m starting to wonder if the bangs life is for me again.

And that’s where I need your advice.

If you’re thinking, “Well Rachel, how can we give you advice if we don’t know what your hair would look like with bangs?” I have a solution. A solution called the internet.

I’ve replaced my face with some celebrities’ faces, to see what exactly I would look like with bangs. I sat on my couch last night experimenting with all sorts of potential hairstyles, and I’ve set aside the best options for you to look at.

Take your time, sleep on it, don’t feel like you need to answer right away. But here are some accurate depictions of what I could look like with a new ‘do, for your careful consideration.

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Technology these days is amazing.

Anyway, thank you for your contemplation, and I look forward to your feedback.