Didn't see that coming

Addendum, 2023: I had to Google the old place, and not only is it still standing, but it has a new coat of paint and the neighborhood has been swankified. It wasn't nearly as nice then as it looks now, but me and Joe and Cy lived behind the upstairs windows for a while, until we didn't.

Good people, though, and good times, long ago...

—    —     —

In this trashy but homey and huge flat, Joe, Cy, and I pay rent to Judith and Jake, and they pay rent to the landlord. They're not rich enough to own this building. 

In a conversation in the kitchen with Judith, she told me that the landlord is beginning to suspect more than two people live here. When he figures out there are five of us, not only the two who'd signed the lease, he'll have grounds to being the eviction process, or renegotiate the rent. Either way, he'll get around the rent control laws, and be able to charge lots more than he's making now. 

To bolster his case, the landlord has threatened to call the city's Housing Department, because it's illegal to have so many unrelated people living under one roof, or the Fire Department, because a spark here could kill us all.

This is Berkeley, land of so many laws there's no telling what other agencies claim jurisdiction over where and how people live, and Judith says she's worried about the Health Department.

As if the landlord could complain, and the Health Dept would kick us out for being slobs? That's not likely, but even in its recently-cleaned splendor this place is a complete disaster, so guess who's been drafted as the emergency maid… again?

♦ ♦ ♦ 

I need the money and have no pride, so instead of doing the nothing I would've done, my morning and early afternoon were spent washing dishes and doing other boring housework.

In a back corner of a back room, found a litter box that had been forgotten (by people, but not by the cats) since at least the last time I'd cleaned it, which was December. Lots of accumulated poop there, and then the cheap generic trash bag broke, so I got to re-scoop all the molding catshit and piss off the floor and into a double-layer of cheap generic trash bags.

♦ ♦ ♦    

After getting the house nominally neater and less smelly, I relaxed in my room reading zines, interrupted only by mild constipation and too many unproductive trips to the john.

And then came the second shoe, so to speak, from this morning's conversation. On my way back from another try on the loo, Judith stopped me in the hall.

"I have bad news," she said. "The landlord says the sub-renters must go."

Only two people are on the lease, and by Monday only two people will be living here. I'm not one of them.

♦ ♦ ♦   

Most landlords are criminals and ought to be shot, of course, but I've never been a "Kill My Landlord" whiner. This flat is conveniently located for my fish-selling job, but it ain't the French Riviera, so I'm not crying about having to move. Tell me to go and I'll go.

Having to move on such short notice is a bit of a bitch, though.

Only rich people can afford first and last and a third month as damage deposit, all up front, and I ain't rich, so ordinary apartments are not open to my kind. Renting by the week at another rez hotel will be my only option, and I'll be looking for another single-room-occupancy place, just a room with a toilet and shower down the hall. 

I'm not looking tonight, though. Fiddle-dee, I'm Scarlett O'Hara — too tired to think about this right now, so I'll think about it tomorrow. After all, tomorrow is another day.

From Pathetic Life #22
Wednesday, March 27, 1996

This is an entry retyped from an on-paper zine I wrote many years ago, called Pathetic Life. The opinions stated were my opinions then, but might not be my opinions now. Also, I said and did some disgusting things, so parental guidance is advised.


  1. I definitely saw this place, after you were gone. You and I maybe went to a movie in Berkeley, or I came with you to sell fish? It was above / across from the Ashby station, IIRC?

    1. Yup. In the zine I said I lived a few blocks from the station, but that was a lie for security reasons. Actually the BART station was right across the street.


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