In Isla Vista there are two ways to deal with a poor living environment: Either heavily self-medicate, or find a sanctuary outside of your luxury apartment.
I used to believe my growing disgust with my apartment was part of a maturing process. I’m in my fourth year at UCSB, on the cusp of graduation, fulltime employment, financial independence and real adulthood. As the year continues I realize that it is not a growing appreciation of quiet and security but a deteriorating living situation.
I have lived in the same apartment since my sophomore year and I used to believe that loyalty stood for something. What I call loyalty you may call laziness (or cheapness) but I have re-signed my lease twice because I had few problems with the apartment.
Built in the ’60s, tenants are warned not to dig around in the walls, lest one disturb the asbestos. Even direr is the warning to women about the disposal of monthly feminine hygiene accessories. I never before had a problem because the complex was quiet, landscaped and I lived relatively undisturbed. When things broke a handyman or our sweet overburdened apartment manager (a mother of three small children who also lived in the complex) fixed them quickly and politely.
Things have changed. A new set of managers inexperienced in dealing with tenants and a management company have been totally impotent to fix broken plumbing or crappy neighbor behavior.
I find myself uttering phrases about my sophomore-aged neighbors that would normally come from a haggard elderly man. “Don’t you have a job?” I murmur as I arrive after a late Sunday night at the Nexus. Pushing the key into the door at 3 a.m. Monday morning I glare over at the drunken boys kicking a half-full can of Coors Light.
And then there are the public fights that couples seem to enjoy having in the roomy atmosphere of an apartment complex my visitors equate with the Warsaw Ghetto. Yet, I could endure wall-rattling noise. All I ask is basic sanitation. When the plumbing began to fail so did my patience.
For two months my roommates and I enjoyed the sounds of our plumbing. A slow drip from the faucet of our upstairs bathtub evolved into a pressurized stream of warm water. The new humidifier transformed the bathroom into a tropical rainforest complete with new life growing on the walls and ceiling. The sound of water pouring and draining filled the apartment and assumed a constant aural presence. This was not the soothing tones forty-something new-agers buy on relaxation CDs in the Nature Conservancy. Instead it was the neurotic’s perfect soundtrack for finals.
“Oh God I’m gonna fail.”
POUR DRAIN SLAP SLAP SLAP.
All that was missing was a syringe filled with sodium penathol and a large, thickly accented thug to beat information out of me.
To be fair, it was fixed last week. But I attribute that more to my roommate’s flirtations during cigarette breaks. This is how we get things in our apartment fixed since the management change. Make eyes at the handyman every time he passes your door to get to his truck. I got us a new kitchen faucet this way.
I keep reminding myself that the year will end shortly and I will move on to poverty and oblivion. The management company that incrementally raised our rent from $1250 to $1550 over three years will cheat the sophomores who replace us out of $1900.
I intend to return to meet my apartment’s new residents. Drinks are on me.
Cara Jennison is the Daily Nexus design editor and is planning a doomed uprising that will someday make for a touching made-for-cable movie.