Paramount apartments. A paramount pain in the ass.

Write about a forbidden activity.
January 30 prompt, “A Writer’s Book of Days”

I didn’t know. I really didn’t know. Until rap rap rap on the door.

Open my studio apartment door. The landlord. Short, pudgy, moonfaced. Thinning white hair. Friendly and smiling and affable face sometimes. Other times stern and hard-edged and stubborn.

Guess it’s a necessary look to develop if you’re a longtime landlord. He lives on the property. About 20 units in this building. I’m on the ground floor. Right by the common door and wall of mailboxes.

“Are you burning candles?” he asks. The face appears friendly but the eyes and tone tell another story. There’s that edginess.

“Yes,” I reply.

“Burning candles is forbidden.”

“It’s a tealight for a diffuser.”

The landlord, guesstimated age 63, doesn’t know what a diffuser is. I’m not really surprised. I volunteer to show him on the Internet. To his basement office-apartment we go. He googles diffuser. Many images. I point to one similar to mine. “That’s it.”

diffuser

“I see,” he says.

“The water goes here and a scented oil. There’s no smoke and no residue. It doesn’t get into the carpets or walls.”

It’s already been brought to my attention that incense is not allowed. That was another knock on the door another day several weeks ago. When I was informed that once after I’d burned a cheap stick that no incense is allowed and it is stated in the lease, I immediately put away the incense. Check the lease. Yep, there it is, item 24. Never again struck a match near the tip of a stick. Not a once.

Candles too forbidden. Scented or unscented. Doesn’t matter. Size. Doesn’t matter. This I learned the hard way. Hard as in a hard look on the landlord’s face.

I explain that the diffuser is very safe. That not only does the scent from the heated water leave no trace but the candle itself is tiny and sits below a metal bowl. There is no proximity or risk to a wall. No soot or smoke streaks.

He doesn’t believe me. He isn’t listening. He is stubborn and he is refusing to listen to the facts about diffusers. They will not change his mind.

Burning candles is forbidden.

So, as with the incense, I immediately rectify the situation. I go out and buy LED candles. I loooooove candles and candlelight and soft lighting at night. They are the “girly” part of me. What girly aspects I have. haha. I’m a tomboy. Not a girly-girl. And NO, I do not think all babies are cute! Not by a long shot! Some are downright ugly. I don’t wear googoogaga glasses.

Anywho. Back to the candles. All now LEDs. And diffuser: put away.

Complainers have the edge in the Paramount Apartments, I discover. One day the discussion turns to foods and cooking odors. The landlord tells me that if a tenant complains about a cooking odor from X apartment, he, the landlord, will relay the complaint to X tenant and instruct him/her not to cook that dish again. Because it bothers a tenant.

{Are you fucking kidding?!?}

“What if there’s a vegetarian who dislikes the odor of cooked meat?” I present that to help illustrate just how ridiculous banning cooking a dish is because of one complaining aka “offended” tenant is.

“Actually, we do have a vegetarian in the building. I told him that it was unreasonable to ban tenants from cooking meat. It went overboard.”

Oh. But telling a tenant don’t cook X dish because it bothers a tenant is reasonable? Ohhhhhhhh-kay.

So, to stop the chronic complaints at the pass, I print out a dozen recipes with scents … like chili, ham and split pea soup … spicy curry … anything that could potentially offend a tenant. And I submit them to the landlord for his review and signing off.

I cook but one dish in the entire first month there. And finally get his sign off so I’m safe to make curried cauliflower I’ve been craving for weeks!

The odors in the building and my studio are funky. Characteristic of an old structure. Smells also enter from the outside: The next apartment building and the wide downtown area in which I reside.

The landlord acknowledges this.

To alleviate the odors and cleanse the space and with diffuser and candles and incense all stashed out of sight, I turn to a solution of water and vinegar in a spray bottle. It’s not only a natural non-toxic cleanser but cheap too!

Time to time I go about the studio spraying. It helps enormously. To a point.

I bump into the landlord by the mailboxes. He’s just back from vacation. He wears the friendly face for about 10 seconds. Then it shifts. Not a happy look. He looks tough. Stubborn. Like his mind’s made up. No affability found here. No cheery grin. His expression reminds me of the Cheshire Cat.

“Are you using vinegar in your apartment?”

“Yes. A solution of water and vinegar to cleanse the air. Safe. Non-toxic. It’s a strong smell at first but quickly disappears.”

“Already two residents have complained.”

Here we go again. I’ve lived here for all of 2 months. And it’s been complaint after complaint from a few residents, well, maybe less. Could be only one or two but constantly and chronically complaining.

They don’t like the scent of incense. Gone. The scent of a candle. Gone. Scents they say they detect passing by my door. PASSING. For 2 seconds as they go enter and exit the building!

The landlord’s quite chummy with a number of longtime residents. He has no objectivity. His views are slanted by those friendly relations and mutual loyalties. Not the way I’d manage a building but oh well.

“The vinegar’s bothering a tenant. Find a way to keep the scent in your apartment.”

“Uh, how do I do that? It’s an old building. Cracks and gaps are all around the door and under.”

“I don’t know! Just do it.” He’s pissed.

“Is vinegar forbidden in the lease?”

“No.”

Then I don’t see that he has cause to complain or ban its use. But he does, essentially.

“What do you suggest I use then to cleanse the air of the strange odors?”

“I don’t know.” He’s not even trying to come up with alternatives. Not even trying to work with me or toward a compromise. He’s being, in a real way, a bit of a dickhead actually.

“Is there someone else in the building who’s a neat freak like I am and that I could talk to for cleaning ideas or suggestions?”

“No.” Hard.

“I’ve ordered an air purifier,” I say. I’m buying it on my own dime to rectify the issue and put an end to complaints once and for all.

“It’s on its way now,” I tell him. “Will be here in a couple days. It’s a perfect solution. A win-win. It’ll cleanse the air AND cause absolutely no odors for passersby residents.”

He’s not listening. He doesn’t care. His mind’s made up. I’m a problem. I’m going.

Rap rap rap on the door a day or so later.

“We’re not renewing your lease.” It’s a month-to-month lease. For everyone.

“What?! Why? On what grounds?” I inquire with the calm reasoning intelligent mind of a lawyer. I’m not a lawyer but coulda easily been.

“We’re not renewing your lease.” His only answer. No matter how many times I ask: “On what basis?”

Actually, what he’s doing, I learn later, is grounds for a suit. But I’m not a litigious person — aka a modern American. I certainly don’t want this crap or baggage carried on to the next place.

And I certainly don’t want to live somewhere where I’m not wanted and not heard and not appreciated for every one of my immediate and cooperative responses and actions to EVERY issue that’s been presented.

Moreover I have no desire to remain amid CHRONIC complainers. Constant and chronic. It never ends. They’ve been the toxic energies wafting into my apartment. Like poison gas. Never ends. I’ve been targeted and picked on pretty much from week 2.

Moving is a hassle. Finding a new place to live is work. But I’m really not upset to be leaving. I welcome and embrace the change. My fellow tenants, a small handful of them if that, are not my friends. They’re not even nice. I want out and I’m willing to go and in peace (no lawsuit).

And I do. Now I’m here. Another studio — and a better one — a mere half mile or so from the former digs.

Life is very unfair and experience a hard teacher, even brutal. Learn I did. Before I signed this lease, I asked whether candles are allowed. Rather, forbidden. The landlord checked the lease. Only smoking (tobacco) is forbidden. Moot point and the place became mine free and clear. Of chronic complainers. Of judgmental and unfriendly co-tenants. I’ve lived in a LOT of places in my 57 years and never felt so unwelcomed or unfairly and harshly put upon and pushed out for no reason!

I count my lucky stars that I’m outta the Paramount Apartments. And to celebrate, one of the first things I put in place in my new digs were my candles, loved and missed. And my Japanese incense. Neither now a forbidden activity.

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