Wednesday, June 22, 2016

732 Square Feet...Of Nut House

People are asking (with smirks on their knowing faces), "how's apartment life going so far?" Oy vey, misery loves company, so let's update.

We are four weeks into this summer renovation adventure, and Team Stancil is starting to show some signs of wear. We've had to replace a broken lock on the front door, fix the handle on our patio gate, someone was supposed to come last week and change the air conditioner filter and they haven't shown up yet, and quite frankly, there are moments/hours/days when it kind of feels like the walls of this little palace are closing in on us.

We have been enjoying the wonderful amenities like the laundry center where it costs $5 to do one small load of clothes, the valet trash service that picks up your trash can every night except Saturday and Sunday (i.e. the nights you have the most trash), and the beautiful salt water swimming pool. Okay, that last one is actually not too bad, considering we haven't contracted any infectious diseases and the people watching has been decent as well.

Our air conditioner isn't a window unit, but you'd never know it by the sound. When that thing kicks on with a roar, we have to talk loudly to be heard over it and turn up the volume on the television until the monster mercifully decides to rest. And speaking of rest, the A/C cools every square foot of our little pied a terre except for the bedroom. We have tried everything to remedy the situation, and yet we both still wake up every night sweaty, stuffy, and having hot flashes. Sweet dreams are most certainly not made of this.

Another bonus are the lovely neighbors we have in such close proximity. Who needs privacy when you can enjoy a tiny, ever-yapping dog just one wall away? I lovingly refer to that unit as Barkingham Palace. I'd also like to commend the guy who lives in the apartment directly behind us, also known as Game On, for his commitment to video gaming. Every night after dinner without fail, he starts up some kind of game involving explosions and gun fire, and doesn't stop until bedtime. Heck, there have even been occasions during the wee morning twilight when this committed fellow plays that game for a couple of thunderous hours. Pursue your passions, buddy. Never mind that it sounds like riding in the trunk of a car on top of a subwoofer in here in my apartment. Do your thing. And right upstairs, we have the Bathisons, nicknamed because of their very obvious love of baths (three, sometimes four, a day) and running water. The Bathisons are either the cleanest or the dirtiest people in the city of Charlotte, I haven't decided which.

The hubby and I are getting back to our newly married days of sharing a bathroom together. There's really nothing quite like sharing a bathroom with someone of the opposite sex. Each of us is somewhat mystified by the other's potions, products, and processes. Every time I go in that little room, I feel like I learn something new about man hygiene. What a delightful learning experience! I hope I forget all of these findings once I am safely back in my own home, sweet home. And if I never brush my teeth over a sink full of stubble remnants again, it will not be counted as a loss.

Perhaps the most dramatic development has been the poor dog. Thursday night, he began shaking his head and scratching his ear in a way that all veteran dog owners know typically signals an ear infection. I took him to the vet Friday afternoon (followed by a trip to Chick-fil-a to buy an eight-count nugget for his trouble, naturally), and the pooch's ears actually looked pretty good. A little inflamed, the vet said, probably a byproduct of allergies or...wait for it: his new environment.

We gave him two doses of a hydrocortisone ear drop solution and by Saturday morning, chaos ensued. My 13-year old blind bichon frise could still hear, but he apparently had no idea what direction the sound was coming from. He wandered all 732 square feet making loops, like a teenager doing doughnuts in a sports car or something. Up was down, down was up, right was left...I'm sure you get the idea. Afraid to leave the poor disoriented little fur ball, we spent our weekend alternating between Amazon Instant Video and Netflix. I hear the weather was beautiful--maybe post some pictures online so I can see it if you have the time, 'kay? Thanks.

By Monday morning, I was frantic to get this disoriented dog some relief. We've been back for another vet visit and now he's taking a steroid that will hopefully help get his allergies under control. The good news is that the medicine does seem to be helping. The not-so-good news is that in the meantime, our glorious 732 square feet now includes a pet hopped up on prednisone, which increases thirst and bathroom frequency. What I'm saying is my dog is now a water drinking, urinating machine who cannot find his water bowl or a way outdoors to relieve himself. Nurse Susie to the rescue. This too shall pass, right?

Back at the homestead, the renovations are progressing somewhat on time (surprisingly) and somewhat over budget (not surprisingly). God-willing, we will be back to what we consider normal in just six "short" weeks. But until then, fire up the air conditioner, turn up the television, and let's invite Game On and the Bathisons over to enjoy all this space we have. I know that when it's over, I'm going to miss banging my elbows on the walls of that tiny shower (Every. Single. Night.), waking up in a flop sweat, and pretty much always being shoulder to shoulder with Clint no matter where in this tiny place we happen to be. Time flies when you're having (732 square feet of) fun.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016


I haven't written anything in a few weeks, but believe me when I tell you, I have had plenty to say. You see, we now have a summer home. What a glamorous life we lead, right? No, it's not at Ocean Isle, or Outer Banks, not Hilton Head or Isle of's actually about a tenth of a mile from our house, right here in Charlotte. And while I don't like to brag, it's a whopping 732 square feet of luxurious apartment living.

We are renovating our kitchen and master bathroom, a project that will take between two and three months to complete (everyone pray it's two months rather than three, I beg of you). During that time, we have been evicted from our house and needed some place to stay short term just to have a roof over our heads. With very few options for such a short lease, we wound up in a circa 1970s, Formica-clad, laminate floor-filled apartment, staring out at a parking lot through some groovy vertical blinds.

First, here's just some of what's happening at our house:

I have to say, all that demolished mess looks positively luxurious compared to what we have been dealing with over here in our little 732 square foot wonderland the last two weeks. Basically, we packed up what we thought we couldn't live without for the summer and crammed it all into an apartment here:

And if you think that outside looks fabulous, you ain't seen nothing yet. Let me really dazzle you with a few pictures of the inside of our humble abode.

I mean, the kitchen really is the heart of the home, right? We are certainly enjoying the beauty of this one, right down to the cabinets and drawers without any knobs or pulls, and the fact that everything seems to be miniature sized like it came out of the Barbie not-so-dream-house. With the exception of the microfridge I enjoyed in my college dorm room, I have never been taller than my refrigerator, until now.

Don't you just love how packed that little fridge is, with all of our food loving life on those sturdy wire shelves? The tiny plastic crisper drawers also come in handy, should you need to store a single bell pepper or perhaps a mini bottle or two.

If the inside starts to wear on us (and how could that possibly happen? No way, no how), we can always gaze out these beautiful blinds onto our patio area. And by patio, I mean 3 x 6 stockade fence cell. It's perfect for spending summer days al fresco, or for a prisoner who has been granted some yard time.

But by far the most frustrating and wearing part of our new summer home adventure has been a technology issue. Cell phone service is spotty at best--we have to stand by the window to have a conversation on our iPhones--and we have been without a landline or Internet for the last two weeks.

We've tried everything. Our service will be up and running for a few minutes at a time, and then just go out again completely. Time Warner Cable changed our home number and gave us a new one for the apartment, then accidentally disconnected our home phone, so calls weren't even being forwarded. We've spent hours on the phone with customer service, and had four different service calls to the apartment in an effort to get a phone and the Internet working properly. After a week and a half and about a hundred hours on the phone with the good people at TWC, even Clint lost his temper and let his frustrations fly over how ridiculous the situation has been. That's right: the usually calm, cool, and collected member of Team Stancil got so irritated he was reduced to (and I believe this is a direct quote): "What the hell is wrong with you people?" Is it too much to ask to be able to make a phone call? Or shop online? Or (gasp) watch Netflix when the need arises?

Throughout this debacle, we've had repairmen go to our home address instead of the apartment, then leave because no one was there (meanwhile, I was not-so-patiently waiting all morning at the apartment for someone to show up). We even had a guy show up two hours earlier than scheduled on a rainy Sunday morning and catch us in our pajamas. Believe me when I say, it has been a real escapade.

Yesterday we had our fourth technician come by. Since we've lived in this shanty apartment, we have gotten a new cable card, new modem, new connectors, new phone line, new cable cords....The technicians were baffled and suggested over these weeks that we may need a new outlet wired or that the whole building we are in could need a new box. Inevitably, someone will come by, work on the issue, service will work for a short time, and then inexplicably go out again. We've blamed Time Warner, we've blamed the old apartment, and everyone we've encountered has had a different--and wrong--theory about what in the world is causing the problem.

And then it happened. The technician was befuddled as to why we had such intermittent service: off and on, on and off. He hypothesized that we needed a new power cord, because it seemed that the modem wasn't getting a constant source of power. He flipped on the light in the room and bent down to install the new power cord, and then started to laugh. "Ma'am," he was chuckling, " I'm about 99% sure I just figured out your problem."

Do any of you tech geniuses know what was causing this confounding issue? Not wiring, or connectivity, not equipment issues, no interference. Drum roll, please...

The outlet that all our equipment was plugged into is controlled by the light switch in the room, and every time we came and went, we turned the power on and off, causing the phone and Internet to also go on and off. Two weeks of heart palpitating, exasperating, confusion and the answer was: don't touch the light switch. We would humbly and very deservedly accept your nominations for this year's Darwin Awards. I can't help but think about Clark Griswold and his outdoor lights in the movie Christmas Vacation!

Now, if anyone needs to reach us, we are quite busy chatting on the cordless phone and happily typing away on our laptops and iPads. Netflix is our oyster, and we are giddy to be part of the real, tech savvy world again. Just so long as no one flips that switch.

Bless our hearts.