Hola, amigos. What's the deal? I know it's been a long time since I rapped at ya, but I've been having a heaping helping of problems. First off, the bill collectors from the hospital have been on my ass about the money I owe them for fixing up my leg earlier this winter. I didn't have insurance, so I owe them a shitload. I told them I didn't have any money and they were going to have to open the cut they sewed up if they wanted any more blood from me. The way I figure it, I got a few months before they send it over to a collection agency. And, if I give them a hundred bucks or so, that'll buy even more time.
I got other troubles besides the hospital hounding me. My car got busted into last month. Some dickwad smashed the window on the passenger side—the door I just replaced—and took all my tapes, some bottles of motor oil, and even the emergency $20 I had in the back of the glove box. Since then, I've been freezing my nards off. I don't care how much duct tape you use or how high you crank up the heat, you can't keep the cold out with a Hefty recycling bag when it's 10 degrees out.
That's not all the changes in my life. See, my landlord called last week. The conversation was going along fine and dandy with some bullshit small talk when he springs on me that he wants to raise my rent $50. "Jim," he said, "property taxes have gone up, and I haven't raised rent in four years. I gotta do what I gotta do." I was all polite, but I totally slammed the phone when he was done. What does that dick think, that I shit nickels? How am I supposed to start coming up with $350 every month? My weed alone costs that much.
Once I got done throwing and kicking things, I sat down to pack a bowl and think this apartment situation through. I started thinking that maybe moving out of my place would give me a whole new perspective on life. I took a good look around the old pad and realized it was starting to get crowded. The water stain on the wall is getting bigger by the month, the cardboard I taped over the hole in the ceiling three years ago is starting to fall down, and the carpet is peeling up off the floor in about six places. I definitely needed a change of scenery.
When I got a paper and looked through the want ads, every apartment was like $200 more than this one, and none of them had parking. If I'm gonna go through the hassle of moving, I need a place for my car to cool its wheels while I'm cooling mine. The only places I could afford were 20 miles outside of town. That's when I had a great idea: I could get a new place with a roommate and cut my bills in half.
Now, ordinarily, I'm a lone wolf. After 28 years on this earth, I've worked out a system of living that's pretty solid, and I don't like anyone telling me how to deal with my shit. The last thing I need is someone telling me I drank his case of beer or left my dishes on the couch. But I was in a bad spot, and I needed someone to help bail me out.
The first person I thought of was Wes. He's been living with his mom for way too long, so I gave him a call and told him he was going to be my new roommate. He sort of hemmed and hawed, until finally I squeezed it out of him: He's planning to move in with his girlfriend in a few months. What a pussy-whipped jackass. I told him he didn't need some woman holding him down, but he told me his mind was made up. He did say that if I had have asked last year, he would've done it. I told him not to do me any favors and hung up the phone.
Later, Wes called me to apologize and told me that he'd been doing some asking around for me. He said his mom told him about a place a mile away from where I'm living now, and it sounded really sweet. It was close to a main drag, the rent was $25 less than what I'm paying now, and it was right around the corner from Shotz Bar & Grill. I decided I had nothing to lose by checking it out.
It turns out the landlord is this old lady who owns the building. She needs a little extra income, so she's renting out a room in the basement. I wasn't keen on living with some fossil, but I was there, so I thought I should at least check it out. I mean, technically, I'm living in a basement right now. Well, the room was about 10-by-10 with one window. On the plus side, it had a toilet right there in the room. On the down side, it had one ceiling light, one electrical outlet, and no fridge. And the ceiling was only about two inches taller than my head. Plus, if I wanted to shower, I had to go upstairs. There's no way I'm going to wait for some old lady to get out of the tub so I can hose down. I'm a man on the go. If I ain't out the door 20 minutes after I get up, it's a Saturday. I told the lady I had to think about it, and I beat it the hell out of there as fast as I could.
The whole apartment search has been a big downer. I'm still sorta looking around, but I'm starting to think that my place is okay. I could put a poster over the stain, and I could either wait for the cardboard to come all the way off or just put some more over it. Besides, it's a real pain in the ass to move. Something always gets lost, and you have to buy beer for everyone who helps you. Still, if a place falls in my lap that has more space for less rent than I have now, you'd better believe I'm gonna jump on that shit. I don't know how much longer I can stand to live the way I'm used to living.
Jim Anchower joined The Onion's editorial writing staff in 1993 after several distinguished years on The Come Back Inn dishwashing staff. He comments on community-affairs, automotive, and employment issues. He attended LaFollette High School in Madison, WI.