06 April 2010

Domestic Displacement

I had imagined my Easter Break rather different from how it turned out in the end.

As some of you already know, my flatmate had what appears to have been a psychotic episode, as a result of which I had to basically squat and crash on another friend's couch as my flatmate had turned the house upside down, did a kitchen cupboard "rage percussion", spilled old shampoo of mine and detergent on the doormat, stairs, wall and handrail (it still smells like coconut every time you enter or leave the house) and left nearly two dozen paper notes sello-taped around the house (including my own room!) in order vent off her anger at sth I had said that unknowingly was to strike a raw nerve!!!

It's astounding how within a split second, a friendship of three or so years is being dismissed over sth as trivial as a cleaning dispute. It makes you wonder about priorities of other people and their ability to communicate what bothers them. I still am somewhat in shock at the quick succession of events - from being screamed at in the middle of a sentence in what started off as a relaxed morning in the kitchen together, to waking up to the cutlery drawer being shaking wildly for a full 20-30 seconds and several cupboard doors banged violently over and over again in the kitchen (my room right on top of it), then 10min later having my flatmate's roommate and good friend come up to my room and delivering an ultimatum, "if you really value your friendship, you will talk to her and apologise to her" after clearly having passed the sights of my laundry and shoes having been thrown all over the staircase while the contents of my kitchen cupboard were totally mixed up in one massive expression of wild fury. Excuse ME?! At that time, I hadn't even realised what it was that I had said which made me deserve all this harassment.

Apparently, when I had said "I can't clean an hour after everyone everyday, I have a life, you know" or something along these lines, she had interpreted that as she didn't have a life. Mind you, this person had been calling me names and teasing me in a manner which I actually found qualified as bullying because they were unwanted not funny and immature comments, despite telling her repeatedly to stop it because it is annoying, until eventually she did - after half a year. Did I turn the house upside down then? I had known this person for years and still did not see this absolutely disproportionate response coming. Naturally, I was A LITTLE concerned for my safety or the safety of my property (particularly, lecture notes and study materials as well as my laptop).

I therefore decided to move out as soon as possible as wandering the streets until after midnight in order to avoid her was not a permanent solution. Besides, all this costs me so much money! Eating out (I had been disallowed from sharing her kitchen tools including kettle and pots and since I intended to move anyway, I did not want to invest in new ones), losing my deposit on the flat, booking a hostel, having to call 0845-numbers from my mobile phone as the landline phone was hers and had disappeared into her room, commuting to Oxford to get away and sign up for the library...

Also, by chance (or self-fulling prophecy), my laptop broke the weekend before Easter and since the School closed over Easter and I can't have any spares shipped to my home (not sure what would happen to it if sb else receives the postman), I have been relying on mobile internet and could not get started on my revision/essays. The library is closed for two weeks for major refurbishment, all libraries are closed over Easter weekend. And I am currently barred from BLE on top of it all.

It had been raining for a week, my room has turned into a fridge again, I couldn't make tea (until I started experimenting with an iron and a tomato sauce jar!) until last night and effectively couldn't do ANYTHING at all except pack my belongings to keep moving and hence warm or sleep to pass the night without noticing the cold.

I had to change my postal address registered to several companies to a forwarding address (a friend who's not in over holidays) and told my landlady I will be moving out within a week and why and to please not tell my flatmate because I didn't know what she would do. Landlady called me back later and offered to talk to my flatmate, with my permission, saying that, "She can't turn all our tenants away! If she's the one harassing you, then you shouldn't be the one who has to leave! We want you to stay!" (Referring to the fact that my flatmate had called the council on the restaurant below our flat around four times now apart from jumping up and down on their ceiling frequently to make them turn down the bass. And although at the beginning, I could hear that our landlady's other tenants who had just refurbished and opened a new restaurant downstairs were playing disruptive electronic vibes in an obviously residential area, I did not hear much later and found it actually mean to call the council - which sends a pair of one council rep and one police officer - for noise disturbance again while they were having a private birthday party and jump on what looked like a wedding or engagement party the week before that! So she had been warned if she kept calling the council, her contract would not be renewed.)

I agreed in the end that the landlady may try talk to her to give it a chance and to be proven wrong. So when the landlady came to collect my flatmate's rent, she told her that I wanted to move out because of her harassing me. Did she really spill shampoo and all that? And my flatmate said yes, she did because she was upset and basically confirmed the events as I had told them to the landlady. So the latter said, "Are you willing to be friends again and put everything behind you and forget about what happened?" - And according to my landlady, my flatmate had said, "Yes, as long as she does the cleaning". Now you have to know, my flatmate is OCD about cleaning, a Mrs. Muscle, and demanded everyone in the flat to clean to her standards. One person cleans every week and the others get a freepass to do as much dirt as they like. Now that's exactly what the dispute was about in the first place: That I find it more efficient if everyone cleans up after themselves and minimise dirt/spillages while cooking; that way we only have to sweep once a week, end of story. That would create less dirt overall. Everyone who has been to my other flats before has seen that this system has always worked fine! Nobody has ever complained about my kitchen surfaces before. But her imposing and enforcing her cleaning standard on three other people indicates an obsession which I will not and cannot entertain. I find it undemocratic and unfair because one person who later agreed to submit herself is the friend permanently crashing in her room, the other is a person who didn't know any of us before and probably sees herself as not having any say therefore.

Besides, this whole episode set me back two weeks in my Easter studying schedule, cost me an awful amount of money and last but not least - stress: I didn't dare to leave passport and important documents lying around as well as things crucial for my revision. I felt compelled to sleep in a public place (not saying where) and to inform a tutor in case the situation escalates and my flatmate short circuits and moves on to GBH. I was really scared!

Didn't stop the landlady from trying for half an hour to convince me, "She wants to be friends with you again! Aren't you willing to give it a chance?", as if we're 14-year-olds, this was a talkshow, my flatmate didn't just jeopardise my finals and this is just a piece of cake!!! I stayed firm and told her that I will surely NOT take that risk at this time of the year, that I have known my flatmate better than the landlady and I know my flatmate only said what she said under the threat of eviction (I did bump into my flatmate after that telephone conversation with my landlady and she did not just slam her door behind her while I was walking by but also switched off all the lights, including the ones she knew I would be using). And what person makes a reconciliation conditional on cleaning?! Have to admit though, landlady would make a clever and tough salesperson.

I also prefer to move out because it's so cold at night and things in the house break all the time and I know, it is very hard in the UK to legally evict so. and my flatmate would not move an inch without due legal course. Finally, if you evict a mentally unstable person, would you want them to know where you stayed?

On the brighter side, I am moving into a hostel from tomorrow, hand over the keys, will have a laptop DHL-ed, so I can work on my essays at last!

2 courageous comments!:

kat said...

Heidi, I wish I could just take you away from there :/ - this sounds so awful!

Heidi said...

Thanks! :)